CHICAGO -- Miami sophomore receiver Phillip Dorsett is finding out that once the spotlight is turned on, there’s no shutting it off.
The Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas graduate had his coming-out party the past two weeks, amassing 375 yards receiving and three touchdowns in wins over Georgia Tech and North Carolina State. Last week against N.C. State, Dorsett caught the game-winning, 62-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left.
But on Saturday in the Hurricanes’ game against Notre Dame at Soldier Field, the sophomore found himself temporarily wishing he could go back to the relative anonymity. Prior to his two-game tear, Dorsett had totaled only 236 receiving yards in the first 15 games of his career.
With his newly proven game-breaking ability, UM went to Dorsett early.
On the first play from scrimmage, Dorsett dropped a potential touchdown pass from Stephen Morris at the Notre Dame 25-yard line. He had beaten the Irish secondary and, considering he has been clocked as one of the fastest players on the Miami roster, easily could have broken away for a score.
It got worse four plays later when Dorsett dropped a 43-yard Morris pass in the end zone on third down, this time watching the ball skip off his shoulder pad.
Though Dorsett played relatively mistake-free football, his play on the first drive appeared to set the tone for the rest of his night.
Morris looked to an open Dorsett for a big play again early in the second quarter, slightly overthrowing a 44-yard pass in the air that would have hit him at the Notre Dame 10-yard line. Although Dorsett isn’t at fault for the missed opportunity, the ball did hit his hands — a play that he might have made in each of the past two weeks.
Dorsett’s efforts against Georgia Tech and N.C. State caused him to gain national attention Tuesday when he was added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, an award that honors the nation’s best receiver.
His 191-yard receiving effort in the Hurricanes’ 44-27 win over N.C. State was the third-highest, single-game total in school history.
But that game-breaking ability is what Miami missed against a stout Notre Dame defense Saturday night. Dorsett finished the game with one reception for 6 yards. It was his worst performance of the season, even worse than Week 1, when he had three catches for 9 yards in a 41-32 win at Boston College.