Dodd Making Pivotal Trip to Rutgers

Rutgers quarteback Tom Savage benefitted greatly from attending spring practice last season, and now incoming freshman quarterback Chas Dodd plans to do the same thing. Of course, it's a little more difficult for Dodd, who lives in Lyman, S.C. He will arrive on campus Monday and spend the week watching practice, talking to his future teamamtes and coaches and trying to learn Rutgers' offense.

Chas Dodd doesn't have the luxury Tom Savage did of living an hour or so from Rutgers campus, which enabled Savage to attend every practice last spring, and aided him greatly as a true freshman starting quarterback.

But Dodd is doing his part, which means spending spring break in Piscataway, N.J., rather than some tropical location. Or, even his warmer hometown of Lyman, S.C.

Dodd, who signed with Rutgers in February, will travel north with his family Monday to watch spring practice, get to know his future teammates and meet frequently with the coaching staff.

"I'll be there for the whole week,'' Dodd said. "It's getting a chance to meet with the guys, meet all of the coaches. I met most of them, but I'll be able to talk to them more, get to look around the campus and be around the players as they're practicing.''

When Savage was installed as Rutgers' starter for the second game of the 2009 season, he said what he learned in the spring was invaluable in allowing him to be ready so quickly.

How much Dodd can pick up during his week-long cram session could determine whether or not he can beat out Steve Shimko for the backup role in training camp.

At least, Dodd said he's a quick learner.

"I can go and sit out there and be able to pick up on some little things,'' he said. "Maybe some signals ... I'll definitely pick up on that. That will help me even more to go in and start learning everything.''

The learning process is already underway via the telephone and with DVDs. Dodd said he watches some Rutgers games on tape, and he talks with Savage and the coaching staff.

"I've talked to Tom some, but probably not as much as I need to,'' Dodd said. "I need to talk to him more, but I have talked to him.

"I've talked with the coaches about some plays. Pretty much what I gather from it is it's a lot of the same stuff that we run. It's just different names for it. So I just have to get used to calling it something else and I should be ok. But I'm excited to get to start learning it.''

Dodd posted gaudy numbers as a three-year starter at Byrnes High (Duncan, S.C.), which is one of the top prep programs in the nation.

He threw for more than 10,000 yards and 81 touchdowns, and was 42-3 as a starter. During his senior season he completed 252 of 391 passes (64.4 percent) for 4,163 and 51 touchdowns, the second-highest total in South Carolina history.

Now, Dodd is lifting four days a week and throwing "two or three days" a week. He is up to 195 pounds, but what held his recruitment back was his height. Dodd checks in just below six feet.

"I throw with my teammates from this last senior class, then some of the rising seniors, and I also throw with some of the college guys that played at Byrnes and went off to college,'' Dodd said." I've been throwing with a lot of guys. I feel I actually got stronger and I gained seven pounds.''

One of the reasons Rutgers looked past Dodd's height was his arm strength. He sees the field well and picks up offensive concepts quickly, which is why Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano believes Dodd can come in and compete for the backup job immediately.

Of course, it is also a necessity since the only quarterbacks at spring practice are Savage and Shimko, who played on scout team last season.

"Since they first starting talking to me, they told me I was going to be able to compete,'' Dodd said. "That's what I'm looking forward to doing. I've had to compete at the high school. I had to work for it, but I had it since my sophomore year.

"I'm really excited to get back on even playing ground and go out and compete with some off the older guys.''

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