Hunter Dockery had been waiting for his big chance for four years. When the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offense took the field at The Citadel last Saturday, the former walk-on was in the starting lineup at left tackle.
"I've been working this whole time to finally get in there," the redshirt junior from Newport, Tenn., said.
Dockery walked on in Russ Huesman's first season as the Mocs' coach. Huesman and Dockery's father, Tim, played together at UTC in the early 1980s.
The younger Dockery played on special teams mostly during the 2010 and '11 seasons, and it looked like he'd have a similar role this season. But he was thrust into the starting lineup last week after sophomore Brandon Morgan, who started the first four games in 2012 and the final eight last season, suffered a shoulder injury on Sept. 22, against Appalachian State.
Huesman said Dockery had "been practicing well and we probably should have played him more coming into [The Citadel game]. That position, it's scary to move people. That's not a moving-parts position, but he came in and did a nice job."
Other than one false-start penalty on UTC's first drive, Dockery held his own against a solid Bulldogs defense.
"The first series I was pretty nervous, but after that, once you get in the groove it was fine," he said.
Waiting four years for one's chance is tough, he said, "but you've just got to keep going. I just had to tell myself, you've got to get better."
Huesman said Morgan is likely done for the season, as is backup left tackle Taylor Dodds, who reinjured the right knee that caused him to miss part of last season and all of spring practice. Losing both players made it even more important that Dockery rise to the occasion.
"He played really well," offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said. "He was like a good official: There wasn't one time during the game where we said, 'Dockery!!!' He was unnoticeable, which is what you want to be as an offensive tackle."
UTC's offensive line was weakened by the loss of Morgan and Dodds, but it got a little boost this week with the return of Devin Caldwell. The former Boyd Buchanan standout practiced Wednesday for the first time since suffering a knee injury during spring practice.
The Mocs will practice today, take Saturday off and resume preparing for Furman on Sunday. ... Defensive end Davis Tull leads the SoCon with 5.5 tackles for loss and is tied for the lead with four sacks. ... Nick Pollard's punting average of 41.2 yards is third in the league.