Taylor Dodds has eight more weeks to get ready. Eight more weeks to develop his body and his mind for the task before him.
That task: the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga redshirt freshman must replace three-year starter Chris Harr at left tackle. Dodds will make his collegiate debut when the Mocs open their season at Nebraska on Sept. 3.
“Nebraska keeps running through my head,” Dodds said following spring practice. “That this might be my first college start, in Lincoln, Neb., I never thought I’d play against a team like that. It will be a fun experience.”
The left tackle job, which protects quarterback B.J. Coleman’s blind side, has been Dodds’ since the end of the 2010 season, when the two-time All-Southern Conference selection Harr’s career came to a close.
Dodds was able to study the game during his redshirt season, but he wasn’t able to develop physically like the other redshirts because of shoulder surgery.
“I missed four or five months, just working out one arm doesn’t cut it, so it set me back a good bit,” he said.
While lacking in the upper-body strength department during the spring, Dodds’ best asset was still there.
“My footwork was still where it was before I got hurt, which is a good thing,” he said.
Dodds is listed at 6-foot-6 and Mocs strength coach Scott Brincks said last week that Dodds is up to 280 pounds, and there’s a lot of room for development in the years to come.
“His body is starting to bounce back to where I thought it would,” Brincks said. “Strength-wise he’s not quite there yet, but he’s getting closer. At least he’ll have some mass that they can’t push around, and that’s the biggest thing.
“Compared to probably the starters in the SoCon, he won’t be strength-wise where they are, but I guarantee you this: he’ll move better than they will.”
Dodds has been in town throughout the summer working on his strength and movement. The Columbus, Ga., native, who played at little Pacelli High School, knows he’ll need both against the Cornhuskers.
“Part of my mentality is coming from a really small school where I was the biggest kid and we played really small teams,” he said. “I’m not used to kids a lot bigger than me or a lot more athletic, but it shouldn’t matter. It’s all about technique and footwork to get the job done.”
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...