RU commit leads Byrnes into showdown

Rutgers commit Chas Dodd leads second-ranked Brynes High of Duncan, S.C., into Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home of top-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas. He spoke to about his season. Dodd is the lone Rutgers commit in the game, but there are more than a handful of other players in the game who hold Rutgers' offers, including six from the top-ranked squad.

The nation will get to see the quarterback Rutgers already knows plenty about today when the top two high school teams in the nation square off on national television at 8 p.m. (EST).

Quarterback and Rutgers commit Chas Dodd and his second-ranked Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes High teams faces No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas of Fort Lauderdale in the marquee game of the high school season.

Dodd is off to a blistering start, having thrown for more than 1,000 yards with 18 touchdown passes and one interception to lead Byrnes to a 5-0 mark.

"We've been coming out and having great games, and we haven't been making mistakes or anything,'' Dodd said. "We're just blowing guys out. It doesn't matter what the score is. We're having really good games.

"We've got a bunch of veterans out there, but I attribute it to hard work and practice and focusing on what we've got to do when we get out there.''

Byrnes has outscored its opponents by a combined 305-42, and Dodd is the catalyst of the attack.

"I'm not making stupid decisions,'' he said. "I'm not forcing the ball, or anything like that. I've been doing a good job with that, I feel, and putting the ball where it needs to be.''

Dodd threw for 3,000 yards with 29 touchdowns as a junior, but he made dramatic improvement in the offseason after putting in a lot of extra work.

A by-product of offseason footwork drills and loads of passing drills with Byrnes' receiving corps has led to much better communication between Dodd and his receivers during games.

"Probably the main thing is timing with the receivers, just from passing league camps and things like that,'' Dodd said. "It was going out every now and then and working on timing, just knowing checks, throwing posts and fades, where they all need to be, and working on timing and footwork in passing leagues. It's making sure I'm doing the right drop on the right plays.

"I definitely notice it, and knowing if we didn't work on it, we wouldn't be where we are right now with the timing and the accuracy of my throws. We wouldn't be close to how we're doing right now. We work on it all the time, after practice, after school. We really focused on that.''

It was more than two months ago Dodd gave his non-binding oral commitment to play for the Scarlet Knights, but it hasn't kept other schools from staying on him.

"I've had some teams call and really see if I'm strong with my commitment to Rutgers," Dodd said. "They're kind of talking to me about that, and I let them know that I am. But I'm still getting people calling me and still getting letters every day.''

Dodd is the only Scarlet Knights commit in the game, but Rutgers has offered several others who will be on the field.

St. Thomas Aquinas running backs Gio Bernard and James White, linebacker Vinny Mauro, cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, cornerback Cody Riggs and safety Brian Robinson (all seniors) each hold scholarship offers from Rutgers.

Also, Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore holds an offer from the Scarlet Knights.

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