Texas A&M senior linebacker Mark Dodge, doesn’t look back. In fact sometimes, he’s even got the ability to see things before they happen.
“He sees the routes,” Darnell said. “I saw him going for balls that other people didn’t have a clue they were coming in that direction. His gift is being able to anticipate where the ball’s going to be, whether it’s in a run or a ball in the air. That comes with age, wisdom and experience.”
That wisdom is one reason he enrolled at A&M early last January so that he could take part in spring drills with the team and be ready to make an impact when the 2006 season rolled around. That extra practice time paid off, especially after Dodge’s “ah ha moment” against Oklahoma.
“I literally got blown up by an Oklahoma offensive lineman. Ever since then it kind of clicked,” Dodge said in an exclusive interview with Aggie Websider. “Then I played pretty good the last quarter of the OU game and I came into the Nebraska game with a whole different mindset. I just took that on as the year progressed.”
That change in mindset, and another realization against Texas Tech, resulted in two critical interceptions in the final two games of the season—a fourth-quarter interception against Nebraska and the game-clincher against Texas’ Colt McCoy.
“I think after the Texas Tech game, it really hit me that there’s only so many route combinations that teams (run),” he said. “In the Nebraska game I knew exactly what play was coming because they had trips to one side and they ran an out. I knew if they ran an out, they were going to run a drag behind me so I was able to step in front of it (for the interception). It was almost the exact same play in the Texas game (for the interception).”
Through spring practice and the first week of the fall, Dodge has continued to improve his ability to see things develop before it happens on the field.
But what may be even more impressive than Dodge’s ability to see the route before it happens is his ability to see his future career.
With a good season in 2007, Dodge has a shot to play at the NFL level, but he’s not focusing on that, in fact, he doesn’t have much interest in that thought at all. Instead, he’s enjoying the moment before he prepares for a career in sales—he hopes with a defense contractor.
“I’m not going to play professional football, I’m too old for that,” Dodge said. “I’m going to leave football on my own terms and I’d like to do it with a championship season here. I really want to enjoy it and we’ve got so many traditions and such great fans that I really want to take that in. I want to enjoy what’s around me and have fun while I play. When you have fun and play you work hard and you win. That’s how I want to finish.”
As he prepares for that last season in Aggieland, which hopefully yields that championship, Dodge said his experience at A&M has been more than he could have ever imagined.
“You see (Kyle Field) on TV, but when you step on the field, it’s a whole new level,” Dodge said. “(A&M) means the world to me. It feels like a family. This place is just tremendous. I love the people here—the teachers, the faculty, the coaches—I couldn’t have made a better decision.”
Instead of preparing for NFL combines and pro-day workouts, once he’s finished with football this year, Dodge plans to return to Washington D.C., where he already has several friends from his time in the Army, or try a new city and experience something new.
But regardless of where he ends up, Dodge isn’t ready to leave the Aggie family behind anytime soon.
“I’d really like to work for an Aggie because you’ve got that family and camaraderie. I don’t want to leave that behind.”
That’s why A&M is such a perfect fit for Dodge. “There’s always fond memories of your time in Aggieland,” Dodge said. “The Aggie Network is always there for you, regardless of what’s in your future.”