CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) The usually unshakable Michael Doctor was a tiny bit nervous.
After his senior season was cut short early by a fractured left ankle, Oregon State asked for another year of eligibility for the outside linebacker.
Having never utilized a redshirt year, Doctor really didn't have to worry that he'd be granted the medical hardship. But he was still relieved when he got word in March that the Pac-12 greenlighted another season.
"It was on my mind. But I never redshirted. I had a lot of faith, and the coaches kept my spirits up and kept me confident," he said.
After his long rehab from the injury, Doctor is anxious to get his second chance started for the Beavers, who went 7-6 last year, capped by a 38-23 victory over Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl.
Oregon State had what could only be called an uneven season last year. The Beavers dropped the opener against lower division Eastern Washington, then reeled off six wins before losing five straight before their bowl win.
Doctor watched from the sidelines, cheering his team even through the missteps.
"I was their biggest cheerleader," he said. "If I couldn't contribute on the field, I could contribute off the field. I was in film study with the guys, doing the little things out there like staying out extra with them, showing them plays. Anything I could do to help the team."
Doctor, 23, is the elder statesman on the team, having already completed his degree in human development and family sciences. Just like last season, he has already been named one of the team captains this year.
He leads a linebacker corps that is strong and experienced. The team returns senior outside linebacker D.J. Alexander and middle linebacker Jabral Johnson.
They're joined by sophomore linebackers Rommel Mageo and Caleb Saulo along with junior college transfer Kyle Haley.
The whole group shaved their heads for fall camp.
"I think we've formed as good a group in total as we've ever had," Beavers coach Mike Riley said. "We've always had good linebackers at Oregon State, but these guys together are pretty special."
Doctor said he wants to bring back Oregon's State's "Linebacker U" of a decade or so ago that dominated the conference with players including Nick Barnett, Keith Ellison, Keaton Kristick and current Oregon State linebackers coach Trent Bray.
"It's just an attitude we want to have here. This school has produced great linebackers and we want to continue that tradition," Doctor said. "We've got a great group of guys. There's a lot of guys with experience coming back this year. Our coach, he has that mindset, so we want to have that mindset, too."
Doctor had similar expectations last season. Known for his speed and field vision, he was the team's leading tackler in 2012 with 83. For his career he has 185 tackles, including 17.5 for loss, and three interceptions.
Doctor broke his ankle in the team's second game against Hawaii. He heard a crack, but he had no idea it was as serious as it turned out to be.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," he said. "Probably about the sixth play of the game. Shot the gap, made the tackle and just got rolled up on. And that was all she wrote."
While the injury - and the rehab - was more extensive that he first thought, he's healthy and ready to go now.
"I'm all good," he said with a smile before jogging off.