VANCOUVER, Wash. — Vancouver’s Austin Dodge has had a season athletes dream about.
The former Skyview High School quarterback led Southern Oregon to the NAIA national nhampionship in December. He was also named the NAIA’s national player of the year.
Now, he has his sights set on a shot at the NFL.
“I can’t really explain to you how much fun it’s been,” said Dodge, who is gearing up for the NFL Regional Combine March 7 in Chicago. “I’m done with school, basically.” said Dodge adding, “I’ve got a couple of online classes, but I get to come out here and play football.”
Dodge works out on Stott Field at Portland State University. He is under the watchful eye of John Charles, a former-record setting quarterback for the PSU Vikings in the early 1990s.
Charles also spent some time with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL and now runs his own company, AirOne Football Academy. He gives clinics on the weekends and does private sessions during the week.
“John’s incredible, he really is. He’s been through it and he’s coached guys who have been through it. He’s the best guy in the business,” said Dodge.
Charles has been helping Dodge focus on footwork, accuracy and being comfortable under center. He also offers advice.
“Just act like you’ve been there,” he tells the young quarterback. “The biggest thing is just don’t look at the other person that’s at Syracuse, Ohio State or Florida State. You belong in that group. You just happen to go to Southern Oregon.”
And it was a record-setting career at Southern Oregon for Dodge, who is listed at close to 6 foot 2 inches. Austin threw for 429 yards and three touchdowns leading the Raiders to a 55-31 win over Marian of Indiana in the NAIA title game in Daytona Beach, Florida. He finished with more than 17,000 passing yards and 154 touchdowns. Both were NAIA records
“It’s been a blast,” said Dodge. “It’s every little kid’s dream to get the opportunity to play at the professional level. Just the opportunity is something special. So I’m enjoying every moment of it. To be able to win a national championship in college and then come do this, it’s a cherry on top – really, that is what it is.”
If things go well in Chicago, Dodge will head to Arizona later in March for a Super Regional Combine at the Arizona Cardinals training facility.
“I don’t know what my chances are yet,” said Dodge, about the possibility of playing in the NFL. “But we will find out here soon. I’m just working as hard as I can to make that dream possible. “