- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Chas Dodd seemed like an odd fit for Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights run a pro-style offense and have preferred taller quarterbacks, like the 6-foot-4 Mike Teel or 6-5 Tom Savage. Dodd, despite his record-breaking high school career, is only 6-foot. The Rutgers coaching staff wasn't sure whether they should sign him.
"There was definitely debate," head coach Greg Schiano said. "But his numbers were unquestionable. And when he came up to our camp and we got to see him throw, you just knew this kid was football player. It didn't matter if he was 6-5 or 6-foot."
Dodd, whose only other scholarship offer was from Georgia Southern, has exceeded all expectations so far. The true freshman was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against UConn, when he threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns. He has ignited a stale offense and supplanted the injured Savage for the time being. Dodd will make his second career start Saturday against Army in New Meadowlands Stadium.
He'll be playing on an NFL field, but this is a guy who showed no nerves as an 18-year-old starting a conference game on prime-time national TV last Friday.
"It was more being anxious and getting ready to go out there and show everyone,” he said.
Dodd grew used to big games at Byrnes High School in South Carolina, where he went 42-3 as a three-year starter. He set a school record with 4,163 yards passing his senior year, and his 51 touchdowns were second most in South Carolina single-season history. Dodd's stepfather, Bobby Bentley, is a former head coach at Byrnes and a college offensive coordinator who taught him the game growing up.
"He's certainly a little bit ahead of the curve, growing up in a football family," Schiano said.
Perhaps that explains why Dodd looked so comfortable in the pocket last week. Unlike Savage, he kept his eyes downfield, bought time with his feet and spread the ball around to several different receivers. He already looks like a pro in executing play-action fakes.
His lack of height doesn't appear to be an issue.
"For me being short, if I see a lineman in front of me, I can’t just throw it right over him," he said. "I might have to move. So I’m always looking for windows and pockets to move into, so I think that helps me out a lot.”
Dodd, whose first name is pronounced "Chase" despite the lack of an "e" at the end, said he's had a lot more people around campus wanting to be his friend the past couple of weeks. That's understandable, as he has quickly put himself on the map. Schiano doesn't want to anoint him just yet.
"It was just one game and there's a lot of football ahead of him," Schiano said. "But I like the way he approaches things."
Right now, Chas Dodd seems like a great fit for Rutgers.