BOZEMAN — Travis Dorsch was an all-state wide receiver, kicker and punter for the Bozeman Hawks in the late 1990s which earned him a spot at Purdue. After a successful career with the Boilermakers, Dorsch was ready to hear his name called in the 2002 NFL Draft.
“As the draft order comes, as you see (Mel) Kiper and all those guys talking on TV, you know, OK, this is an opportunity to kind of (be) around the TV with your family and friends watching,” said Dorsch. “Your name doesn’t get called, so you go back to doing what you’re doing. Just trying to avoid the nervous energy. “
Dorsch was a star for the Boilermakers, he was the first Big Ten player to be selected all-conference as both a punter and kicker. He still holds the record for most points (355) in Purdue history and career field goals (69). He also won the Ray Guy award for the nation’s outstanding punter. Ironically, Guy played a big role in developing Dorsch.
“Records come and records go,” Dorsch said. “You know, there’s a little pride there of course, but it’s not something I go around talking about.”
But the star special teamer feels as though playing both positions might have hindered him just a bit when it came time to prepare for the draft.
“As an NFL prospect, that ironically maybe hindered me a little bit because NFL scouts didn’t know which I was or what I was ultimately going to be better at,” Dorsch said. “There was some interest in drafting me as a punter by some teams, by kicker as other teams. In my preparation leading up to the combine and through draft day, I really had to continue to do double duty and didn’t know what was going to happen."
Dorsch was drafted in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2002, and he still remembers the phone call he received from their special teams coordinator.
“My dad said, 'It’s for you', so I come over and it’s the special teams coach for the Cincinnati Bengals and he says, 'How would you like to be a Bengal?'” recalled Dorsch. “I don’t even remember what my response was, because I think I was so shocked at the time because I hadn’t done an interview with them, they hadn’t come to my pro day, they didn’t have me on site in Cincinnati.”
His time with Cincinnati didn't last long. After being cut by the Bengals after his rookie season, Dorsch had stints with the Packers and Vikings. He then played in NFL Europe with Minnesota’s and the New York Giants’ affiliates. After a few years in Germany, Dorsch knew it was time for something else.
“I sort of knew at that point in time that the writing was on the wall and I wasn’t going to make it back to the big league, and pursued my current pathway which is sports and exercise psychology,” Dorsch said.
The 1998 Bozeman High graduate still remembers the kick that helped him get noticed by colleges -- a 63-yard field goal while he was playing for the Hawks, which is a state record.
“Kicked that 63-yard field goal down in Salmon, Idaho. The phone and the paper letters, which were a thing back then, really started coming in hot,” he said. “That’s when I think, the mindset shifted to maybe football is going to be the meal ticket. I was fortunate enough at Purdue to continue my baseball career for a couple years, as well, until football really kind of took center stage, maybe this is an opportunity to continue playing at the next level.”
He started kicking as a freshman for Bozeman after he won a tryout, but that season he played quite a lot of football.
“I go out there and I earned the job as a freshman and that was an interesting year because I was kicking on the varsity team, I was playing quarterback on the freshman team and then I was playing wide receiver and some defense on the sophomore team,” said Dorsch. “I was playing in three or four games every week. I think I had like 40 football games that season.”
Dorsch is now an associate professor at Utah State, but he remains active, running triathlons with his wife.
“For me, triathlon was really cool in the beginning because it was like every day I went out I was getting better and that was fun,” he said. “That got me through grad school and we’re still doing it, not as much now that we got two little kids running around the house. That’s kind of our competitive fire and passion now.”