Demetrius Douglas doesn’t always slot in at receiver. But when he does, he prefers to catch clutch conversions.

The Gophers sophomore receiver operates mainly as a punt and kick returner, rotating into the passing game behind Tyler Johnson, Rashod Bateman and Chris Autman-Bell. But of his 12 catches for 121 yards this season, many have helped the team move forward on a scoring drive.

The biggest ones were late against Georgia Southern in the final nonconference game. Douglas caught a 21-yard pass from quarterback Tanner Morgan on third-and-29 at the Gophers 6-yard line before adding a 10-yard catch on fourth down. That kept the Gophers alive on the drive that eventually won the game.

A week ago at Iowa, he converted a third-and-10 for 20 yards on a drive that resulted in a missed field goal. He caught a 29-yarder that helped set up a field goal and made a second-down catch that led to the Gophers’ final touchdown.

“We saw the talent right from the very beginning when he got here. But I think he just needed to realize that he had that type of talent and that ability,” offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca said. “And he’s now done it in a number of different times where he’s made critical plays for us in critical situations.”

As a returner, Douglas has experienced his share of fluky plays such as muffed punts this year and has yet to replicate his punt return touchdown from Wisconsin last season. He said he senses a big moment like that on the horizon.

“Demetrius, really, he helps me sleep at night,” Ciarrocca said. “… He’s a guy that could step into a major role at any point if somebody went down or something like that. But I think the best is yet to come with Demetrius.”