Countdown 2007: Websider Impact Players - #9

Aggie Websider continues its look at 25 players who can make the biggest impact for the Aggies this year. These rankings are not necessarily based on talent, but rather, what contributions can be made by individuals to put Texas A&M back among the nation's elite programs. Senior LB Mark Dodge comes in at No. 9.

Mark Dodge began the 2006 season as the "U.S. Army veteran" who was fulfilling his dream of playing Division-I college football. During his time in the Army, he was never captured as a POW, but in 2006, he was a two-time POW—Player of the Week.

Dodge was a huge piece of the resurgent Aggie defense in 2006, and with a year in the Big 12 under his belt, he should have an even bigger impact in 2007.

What he's done so far

In 2004, Dodge posted 86 tackles (12 TFL) and six sacks at Feather River (Calif.) Community College, which was an outstanding performance for a freshman. But in 2005, Dodge really began turning some heads in Division-I football, including A&M head coach Dennis Franchione. Dodge was the team leader for tackles at and earned All-Mid-Empire Conference honors as a sophomore with 144 tackles and five forced fumbles. He was the defensive MVP in Feather River's bowl game after recording 17 tackles.

Last year, Dodge emerged as one of the best linebackers in the Big 12 during his first season at A&M. He enrolled in January so that he could work out with the Aggies during spring practice and that decision was probably worth at least one, maybe two wins for the Aggies. The A&M defense would not have performed as well without Dodge's commitment to come in early and learn the ropes during spring ball.

That commitment paid off for Dodge, who racked up 51 tackles in his junior season (12 solo, 2.5 TFL). He also hauled in two interceptions, including the game-clinching interception against Texas to seal the 12-7 victory in Austin last November.

Why he's important

Dodge is a leader in every way. He's older than most college seniors which makes him a natural role model for others on the team, and he's been through things that are much tougher than any two-a-day drill could possibly be.

Dodge is also an extremely smart player who has that "coach on the field" persona, and always seems to be around the ball. If he can just reproduce his performance from 2006 the Aggies will have another solid linebacker unit and should improve on defense, especially with a healthier defensive line in front of him.

2007 Aggie Websider Impact Players
10. Chris Alexander, FB
11. Jordan Peterson, DB
12. Devin Gregg, S
13. Alton Dixon, S
14. Misi Tupe, LB
15. Cyril Obiozor, C
16. Cody Wallace, C
17. Matt Szymanski, PK
18. Earvin Taylor, WR
19. Kirk Elder, OL
20. Corey Clark, OL
21. Pierre Brown, WR
22. Chris Yoder, OL
23. Yemi Babalola, OL
24. Kerry Franks, WR/KR
25. Justin Brantly, P

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