Dodson's Commitment Puts Spectacular Bow on Signing Day for the Buckeyes
By Tony Gerdeman
Cleveland Heights' football coach Jeff Rotsky stood at the podium set to introduce offensive tackle Kyle Dodson (6-6 315) to the crowd.
As he had done several times before in the preceding minutes for the other seniors who had signed National Letters of Intent to play college football, Rotsky had a few words to share about Dodson before the mammoth lineman made his college decision public.
"It's been well-documented how special he is to me," he began. "I've been fortunate to have a lot of great, close relationships with my kids, but this is one that I will remember for the rest of my life."
The coach then went on to talk about the hardships that Dodson had experienced in his life. The loss of his mother, who was killed in 2005 when a flatbed tow truck being driven by a man high on crack while evading the police slammed into her car.
It was an experience that no child should ever have to go through, yet Dodson and his siblings certainly did.
Then came his junior year when back pain turned into a concern about his spine, shutting his football career down for good.
That retirement, however, lasted little more than a month. After the pain subsided, new doctors gave him a better, cleaner bill of health.
It was just one more thing that Dodson had to go through. Despite it all, however, he persevered. He never quit, and that desire to fight was never lost on his coach.
"When most kids would've folded the tent, this young man refused to give," Rotsky said, Dodson nodding in agreement at a table just a few feet away.
It wasn't just the past that was painful for Dodson, however. His right arm and shoulder are currently suspended in a sling as a result from surgery on a torn labrum.
"He played the last four games with a torn labrum," his coach explained. "Very, very painful and challenging injury. Most people would've said 'That's it'. But he was able to do it and he hung in there for his team."
"There's never been more of a team guy than Kyle Dodson.”
If you heard the coach's words, but didn't believe them, you would have changed your mind with what happened next.
Rotsky gave the podium to Dodson, who thanked all of those who supported him and helped him to get to this point in his life. Then it came time to make his commitment known to everyone. In true Dodson fashion, he wanted all of his teammates to be a part of it.
However, since they couldn't all fit on the stage with him, he joined them all down on the floor, eschewing the spotlight, the podium and the microphone. He was with his team.
Then, as team captains do, he started to get his teammates fired up.
"I got that feeling," he yelled.
"Oh yeah," came the collective reply from his teammates. Each charge and reply growing louder than the last.
"I'm feeling great!"
"I got that feeling."
"I'm sealing my fate."
"I got that feeling."
"Now don't lose faith."
"I got that feeling."
Dodson yelled out the final line, and then the crowd exploded in applause. And his teammates were there to share in it as well.
It was one final nod to the teammates that he had gone through so much with, and who had stayed by his side the entire time.
Looking back, this was probably the only way for Dodson to make his announcement known.
But now he will turn to a new chapter in his life. A new team, and new teammates.
He is rated a four-star prospect by Scout, and the 24th-ranked tackle in the nation overall.
"Great kid," is how longtime scout John McCallister describes him.
"He’s a specimen. I saw him run the 100 meters last spring and he didn’t embarrass himself. He’s got a ways to go, but he has that physical presence about him. He is powerful and really fires off the ball.
"As far as his physical presence and work ethic, it’s really good. He just hasn’t been in enough competition."
He will find that competition soon enough, though with recent the surgery on the aforementioned torn labrum, Dodson is a likely candidate to redshirt this coming season.
But it's not like that type of adversity is anything new, or anything that he can't handle. He's been through worse and come out just fine.
There's no reason to expect that trend to change anytime soon.
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