Doyle competes in senior bowl just one year after double-knee surgery


Photo courtesy of Josh Doyle's Twitter

Eastern offensive lineman Josh Doyle poses with his jersey at the FCS senior bowl in Myrtle Beach on Dec. 15.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor


It’s the word no athlete wants to hear in their offseason, but it’s the one that was uttered to Eastern offensive lineman Josh Doyle in the offseason of 2017 following his junior year. And it was not just any surgery that would be required for the 6-foot-5, 285 lbs tower of an offensive tackle, both of his knees, ever important for a player of Doyle’s size, needed to be repaired.  

Doyle was coming off a junior season in which he appeared in all 11 games for Eastern on the offensive line, starting two at right tackle. But he had been experiencing pain while running and an MRI after the season ended revealed that he had torn a meniscus in both of his knees.  

He had the to repair his knees and returned home to Wisconsin where he underwent extensive rehab that led into the summer when he returned to campus. Not only could Doyle not participate in Spring football following his surgery, he was worried he would no longer be a shoe in for a starting role on the offensive line for his senior year. 

Doyle’s worries however, remained just worries.  

Not only did Doyle play in his senior season, starting nine games at left tackle, blocking for the Ohio Valley Conference’s No. 1 passing offense, but Doyle will have played in both the FCS Senior Scout Bowl and the FCS Dream Bowl by offseason’s end.  

“Coming off of double knee surgery last season I didn’t know what to expect going into camp,” Doyle said. “I just knew it was my senior season and I wanted to leave on a high note. So, I worked hard on performing my craft.” 

Eastern’s season did not go how  Doyle would have liked. The Panthers finished 3-8 and head coach Kim Dameron was let go at season’s end. 

“Not the season we wanted overall,” Doyle said. “It taught me perseverance. (To) be able to get knocked down and keep moving forward with a positive mindset, that’s what I loved about my team.” 

Doyle’s entire last season, and much of his career, has been defined by that mantra; being able to get up after being knocked down. Not only did Doyle recover from double-knee surgery to regain a starting role as a senior on the offensive line, but he did so at a position he was not even recruited to play. Out of high school Doyle was recruited to play defensive line at Northern Illinois, but after red-shirting his freshman year he decided it was time for a change of scenery.  

Doyle remained on the defensive line during his redshirt-freshman season at Eastern, he played in two games and made two tackles. But during his sophomore season, his football career would change again when he would move to the offensive line.  

“Looking back is humbling,” Doyle said. “Coming from defensive line two and a half years ago, I had to completely change my play style. But with help from my coaches and teammates I was able to have a great career here at Eastern and for that I’m thankful.  

The FCS Senior Scout Bowl however offered a silver lining to what would have not only been a season to forget, but put a punctuation mark on a career where circumstances often seemed to keep Doyle from having any chance at a punctuating end like this one. 

“Overall (the FCS Senior Scout Bowl was) a great experience,” Doyle said. “It opened my eyes to the next phase of my football career and was good exposure. (I) talked with agents and some professional leagues. It’s humbling to get down there and compete with great talent.” 

The exposure is exactly what Doyle hoped to get if he is going to get to do what he wants with the next chapter of his life; get another chance to play football. 

“Honestly, I just want another chance to keep suiting up and playing the game that has given me so much,” Doyle said. “So, I am looking to continue a pro career.” 

An opportunity to begin a pro career would of course seem like a fitting next step for Doyle, who has done nothing but defy odds during his college career. Few people could have predicted that this once defensive lineman, converted to offensive line at a new school would one day start on the line’s most important position.  

Even fewer people would have predicted that same player would recover from double-knee surgery, hold his starting job and play in both the FCS Senior Scout Bowl and the FCS Dream Bowl. But here Doyle is.  

So, while many people may not have Doyle pegged for a pro career, if there is one thing his career in college should tell those doubters, it’s that it is never safe to count out Josh Doyle.  

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]