WINNIPEG - Dustin Doe made a mistake.
This wasn’t the type of mistake that lands you in prison, but charges for driving with a suspended license in 2009 and failing to pay for several parking tickets led to his arrest and threatened to jeopardize his college football career with the Florida Gators.
“I don’t have any DUIs, DWIs or reckless driving, it was nothing like that,” said Doe, who helped the Gators capture a pair of BCS National Championships with Tim Tebow running the offence. “It was a situation where citations accumulated over a period of time from my freshman year until my senior year and it all hit the fan at one time.
“It was a bad experience. Instantly, people just get this image of you. Instantly, I got labeled as a bad guy.”
Rather than transfer to another school for his senior season, Doe stuck it out through his suspension and worked his way back into a starting role with the Gators.
“Coach (Urban) Meyer gave me an opportunity to leave but I played my whole three years with those guys. I sweat with them and I bled with them,” said Doe. “I felt like I didn’t want to turn my back on them. I went from being a starter on defence to being on scout team and eventually working my way back into the starting rotation.
“It was tough to be at that point and then just fall from grace. But it was okay. I fought through it and it made me a better man from it. I had to battle through a little adversity but I learned from the experience.”
After playing some indoor football last season, Doe signed with the Blue Bombers on August 1, eventually playing in three games.
“Last year, I missed out on camp, I missed out on a lot of information and a lot of experience,” said Doe. “I was kind of like a deer in the headlights. I was just out running around, trying to show the coaches that I’m athletic enough and I have the physical abilities to play this game. This year, I came in early. I did min-camp, rookie camp and now I’m doing training camp. I’m just trying to sponge it. Soak it all up and get ahead of the learning curve and be as smart as I can.
“The CFL is a good game. It’s for athletes. There’s a lot of space and you’ve got to be able to make plays.”
Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said Doe’s emergence was one of the reasons the team felt Merrill Johnson was expendable and subsequently shipped to the Edmonton Eskimos.
“He’s always in a good mood, he does what he’s supposed to and he’s a good athlete for a linebacker,” said LaPolice. “I like his effort, his attitude, his instincts and his ability.”
Former Gators punter and fellow Blue Bombers hopeful Eric Wilbur knows what Doe brings to the table.
“Non-stop hustle is what Dustin is all about. Infectious is a perfect word for his personality,” said Wilbur. “He’s positive. It doesn’t matter what’s going on, he’s always smiling, always laughing but he gets the job done.
“He’s going to run the entire length of the field if he has to. You’ll never see him give up on a play.”
Hometown: Jasper, Florida
Weight: 228 pounds
College: Florida Gators (won national championship in 2006 and 2008)
2011 stats with Winnipeg Blue Bombers: 3 GP 2 defensive tackles, two special teams tackles and one tackle for loss