As Saturday's season finale at West Virginia looms, Dodd is remarkably entrenched as the starting quarterback, and the freshman from Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C., acknowledged he has done more than he anticipated.
"I'm surprised at the fact that I did get as much playing time as I did this freshman year," Dodd told ScarletReport.com "But I'm not surprised that I have come in and kept working hard and doing what I have to. It's just the competitive nature that I have, that I've tried to do that. That's one of the things that helped me hold the spot."
Dodd grabbed the starting position after sophomore Tom Savage injured his throwing (right) hand Oct. 2 against Tulane and hasn't relinquished it.
And the 6-foot, 200-pound Dodd held onto it by showing poise in the pocket, leadership, mental toughness and a strong understanding of the offense. He is completing 55.4 percent of his passes (113 of 204) for 1,498 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.
As a freshman, Savage completed 52.3 percent (149 of 285) for 2,211 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. This season Savage completed 43 of 83 (51.8 percent) for 521 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
So, how did Dodd hold onto the spot?
"Just because I came in and showed coach I wanted the job, and just preparing as good as I could," Dodd said. "I think coach saw that and he just made the final decision."
Dodd has a high football IQ – his stepfather is a high school football coach – and digested the playbook quickly.
"As of right now, I pretty much know the whole playbook," he said. "Every week they have a new thing they put in, obviously, but I feel like I know it. There's a few things we might bring back from the beginning of the season, so you have to refresh your memory, but as far as everything we do, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of it."
Throughout the recruiting process Dodd said he was heading to Rutgers to compete for playing time, all the while knowing Savage was the incumbent.
However, the specter of sitting behind Savage for three years did not deter Dodd, and he never considered red-shirting.
"I did want to play," he said. "I didn't really know how the season was going to (play) out. Obviously, with the whole injury to Tom, but once that happened …I'm not happy it happened, but happy I did get in the situation I got in, and happy I'm playing now."
Dodd remains upbeat and positive despite the weekly pounding his body absorbs behind a porous offensive line. Rutgers quarterbacks have been sacked a staggering 55 times, and each time Dodd got up.
In fact, Schiano termed several of the hits Dodd took in last week's loss to Louisville "vicious," and admitted he is concerned whether Dodd is being upfront with him about whether he is injured.
"I think some of it is in my nature that I don't like to come off as a wimp, always complaining about an injury," Dodd said. "Honestly, I've been up front with him because I know if I am hurt, or if I am sore, I need to get the proper treatment for it. I'm not going to risk that. Honestly, I felt fine every week, other than a little soreness after every game."