CLEMSON – Kevin Dodd is a patient sort, which is a good thing given his current stead.
The Clemson sophomore is rarely mentioned when fans rave about the Tigers’ embarrassment of riches at the defensive end position, where All-American Vic Beasley and All-Atlantic Coast Conference candidate Corey Crawford hold down the starting spots with senior Tavaris Barnes peering over their shoulders.
But Dodd’s time is coming, and he knows it.
“Maybe when Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford and the rest of those seniors get up out of here then I can just bring all my aces to the table,” Dodd said.
So far, Dodd has been dealt some lousy hands.
A non-qualifier out of Riverside High School, Dodd had to spend a year at Hargrave Military Academy before gaining entrance at Clemson.
After a freshman season in which he made six tackles in 87 plays over eight games, Dodd was expecting bigger and better things in 2013. But a shoulder injury delayed his progress last fall and then a toe injury ended his season after the fourth game. He was granted a medical redshirt.
“I’m actually glad I had the chance to redshirt now,” Dodd said. “I’m smarter and know what to expect.”
Dodd spent the bulk of his rehabilitation alongside defensive tackle Carlos Watkins, who was recovering from injuries sustained in an auto accident in September.
“We’d work out first, then we’d go watch the defense,” Dodd said. “He’d watch the defensive tackles. I’d watch the defensive ends.
“It was nice to have somebody to work with, and we competed against each other. It was a grind, and you’ve got to work at it every day, but I think it helped get Carlos back faster, too.”
With his health restored, Dodd has focused on getting stronger, faster and smarter. Now 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, Dodd — a high school track standout who won Greenville County titles in both the shot put and discus — entertains no illusions that he’ll unseat Beasley or Crawford, but he certainly feels more confident than ever that he’ll respond in a big way when he gets an opportunity.
“I just play hard every day,” Dodd said. “And wait for them to call my number.
“I feel confident. I’ve got to be confident and show Coach that he can trust me. I’m just a normal guy, out here grinding, wanting to get some plays in. I’m staying level, being aggressive and getting that spark back again.”
And having a talented group in front of him should help.
“We’re all great competitors in the defensive end room,” Dodd said. “I just try to use all my tools to my advantage, use my speed and power and give them all I’ve got.
“I try not to focus on all the other guys. I try to see what Kevin Dodd can bring to the table.”