Chas Dodd: Profile of a Leader

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Whether discussing "Jersey Shore" or facing a ferocious a pass rush, Rutgers sophomore quarterback Chas Dodd's demeanor is the same. He can joke at his own expense, or push teammates in the weight room. It is all part of his make-up and why he is not only a leader of Rutgers' offense, but of the team.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers quarterback Chas Dodd misses breakfast at Hardee's, and as he tells his friends and family at home, he doesn't hang out with "The Situation" or "Snooki."

Upon first meeting Dodd, Rutgers defensive back David Rowe thought he was a kicker, Center David Osei wasn't sure what position he played and defensive tackle Scott Vallone said "he's little, and he looks like he's in junior high school."

Oh, and there is the accent. The distinctive, I'm-not-from-Jersey drawl that is unmistakably out of place, yet genuine and comfortable.

Through it all, Dodd found a way to fit into the northeast culture, become one of the guys on the team, and develop into a leader not only of the offense, but of the Scarlet Knights, despite being a (listed) 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore playing a position reserved for guys a few inches taller.

"Chas always had an aura about him, like a leadership aura," Rutgers red-shirt junior defensive tackle Scott Vallone said. "He always had the respect of everyone on the team. He's an outgoing guy, a goofy guy. Chas is one of those guys that has a good relationship with everyone on the team."

It is mostly because Dodd, who prepped at South Carolina-power Byrnes High, is comfortable enough to laugh at himself, comfortable enough to joke around with teammates, and confident enough to tell everyone when it is time to be serious.

An underlying joke late last season was Rutgers' recruitment of Dallas Hendrikson, a red-haired, red-bearded junior college offensive lineman from Iowa Western Community College. And While Hendrikson was an inch taller and 100 pounds heavier, it didn't take long for folks to notice the resemblance between he and Dodd.

"It was funny," Dodd said. "Everyone teased me about it. Even my mom, because she gets those google alerts for Rutgers football, and she saw we were trying to get Dallas. …She said, ‘Yeah, he might be your brother. I don't know what's going on.' A bunch of people say stuff."

There are also the friends back in Lyman, S.C., who always want to hear about Dodd's brushes with the famous. They're not talking about star receiver Mohamed Sanu, of former Rutgers players now in the NFL.

They all want to know about the Jersey Shore cast, like Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino.

"Here, it's like 45 minutes away from the Jersey Shore, and everyone back home thinks that I hang out with these guys," Dodd said. "I don't know why, but as soon as they hear I'm at the shore, they're like ‘you must have seen them.' "

Dodd is as much at ease talking with the media about "Jersey Shore," and how he watched Snooki on Rutgers' in-house network when she appeared at Livingston Campus in the offseason, fast food and missing the comforts at home as he is dealing with a relentless pass rush, like he did earlier this month at North Carolina.


He is calm, collected and mindful of his surroundings.

"He doesn't get rattled," Vallone said. "Nothing gets him rattled."

Vallone, as well as the rest of the Rutgers defense, should know.

Rutgers allowed a school-record 61 sacks in 2010, and Dodd was the target of many of them. And the pressure he faced in the game wasn't anything different than practices, when the Rutgers defense was constantly hounding him.

Through it all, Dodd never flinched.

"He's definitely a leader," Rutgers senior free safety David Rowe said. "In the weight room, he's working out with the defensive backs, and he's doing the same weights. It's the first time I've seen that before. He works hard. I may be tired one time and out of gas and he will be standing straight up. He's pretty impressive in the weight room."

It also helps Dodd can mix his hard work with talent, particularly a strong right arm. Osei, the starting center, learned that quickly.

"I remember thinking, ‘What does he play? Who is this guy?' " Osei said. "I remember him grabbing the ball and slinging it about 60 yards, and then it was like, ‘Oh, ok. That's him.'

"Every time I snap it and he throws it over my head, you hear the whistling. I remember always (wanting to) flinch because I thought it was coming right at me."

The next step in Dodd's progression as a quarterback is to, well, go through them.

He completed 55 of 96 passes (57.3 percent) for 588 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions in three games, which is only slightly improved on the 55.2 percent of the passes (123 of 223) he completed last season.

But members of the Rutgers defense say he is a much different quarterback now.

"I think his decision making is a lot different this year," Rutgers red-shirt junior linebacker Khaseem Greene said. "He reads through his progressions really well now, and a big thing he does now is looking off. That's one of the things that has gotten us in practice."

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