Saline High School offensive lineman Dimitri Douglas has always dreamed of earning a scholarship to play Division 1 college football.
While he always hoped to someday achieve this goal, Douglas said he didn’t know if it was necessarily a reality.
“I first started really started getting recruited after my freshman year by some really small schools in Division 3,” Douglas said.
Once he started receiving attention from some of the smaller schools, Douglas said he made it known to the coaches he was really focused on playing at the highest level.
“I told coach (Joe) Palka after my freshman year I wanted to go D1,” Douglas said. “You say those things and not a lot of people really believe you until it happens.”
Douglas said Palka has really helped him with the mental aspect of football and has put him in a place where he could achieve his goals.
“He saw potential in me right when I came in the door,” Douglas said “We have had plenty of talks with each other and he really helped me with the recruiting process and helped bring me along mentally as a player.”
Getting to play for coach Palka is very special opportunity, Douglas said.
“He actually coached at the D1 level so he knows what it takes to get there,” Douglas said.
Douglas said he has made massive strides in the Saline football program, both physically and mentally.
“My freshman year I came in at 220 pounds and now I weigh 290 pounds, so in a few years I put on 70 pounds of good weight,” Douglas said. “Mentally, just getting smarter as a football player, those are the two biggest things they have helped me develop as a player at Saline.”
Douglas said when he committed to the work and focused on just getting better, the offers started to flow in.
“Just before my junior season Michigan State started contacting me,” Douglas said. “I heard from some bigger schools after my junior year. I heard from Minnesota, Michigan, Syracuse, Indiana showed a lot of interest, so there were a few big schools after my junior year.”
“I didn’t get a scholarship from any of those schools so it was cool for a little bit but the goal was obviously to get a scholarship so I didn’t get too over excited because basically every one of those schools was telling me the same thing.”
Douglas said he remained patient and he eventually received the offer he had always been waiting for.
“I got the scholarship from MSU after I went to two camps there,” Douglas said. “The day I committed to Michigan State, that was probably the one moment where I just thought this is wild.”
The recruiting process can be stressful, Douglas said, but now that he has decided where he will be going after high school it has really freed him up to focus on his senior season at Saline.
“I am at peace with where I am going,” Douglas said. “Last year, I had the recruiting process during the season and now I am able to be at ease because I know where I am going so for me it has been a lot easier focusing on this team and this season.”
Douglas said the team has one goal and that is to win the state championship.
“That has been the goal every year that coach Palka has been here,” Douglas said. “We obviously want to hit minor goals along the way, starting with winning game one, winning the conference is another thing, we have steps along the way but our ultimate goal is to win the state title. For us, coming up a little short last year against the state champion, we are pretty confident we can get back to that point.”
Douglas said switching sides in the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State won’t be hard for him.
“My house is six-and-a-half miles away from Michigan Stadium so I grew up in a Michigan household,” Douglas said. “But the first time I was at Michigan State I knew that is where I wanted to go. I went to a game against Wisconsin and everything just blew me away. I didn’t get that feeling at any other school.”