Kevin Dodd is simply clutch on the football field. When the lights were the brightest and the stage was the biggest, Dodd stepped up for his team.
It is an attribute that had to be factored in when Tennessee decided to select the pass rusher. Players like Dodd, who embrace the big moments are severely contagious in the locker room.
Looking at 2015 alone, Dodd was unbelievably tremendous in the most crucial games.
In Week 4, Clemson hosted Top 10 ranked Notre Dame. Playing in the overall weak ACC, Clemson could not afford to loose a game which made the out of conference match up so important.
Playing against an offensive line with multiple NFL players, Dodd dominated. He bullied through the Fighting Irish for 2 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss on the night.
The next critical point in the season for Clemson was in the ACC Championship game verse cross state rival North Carolina. The Tar Heels possessed one of the most enormous offensive lines in the country, with four of their five lineman averaging a stature of over 6’4″ and 300 pounds.
Dodd used his combination of quick feet and hands to take down QB Marquiesse Williams once, and record 1.5 tackles for loss.
As a result of Clemson running the table, the No.1 ranked Tigers advanced to the College Football Playoff verse Oklahoma. It was new stage for the Clemson, as they found themselves playing in front of millions against one of College Football’s most storied programs in Oklahoma.
Just like riding into battle, Dodd led the way and the charge. He served as Oklahoma’s worse nightmare as he danced in the backfield continuously for 3.5 tackles for loss.
It was also Dodd’s timing that was so vital. Up 23-17 over Oklahoma, after a Clemson touchdown to start the third quarter, a defensive stop would be huge.
Dodd stuffed QB Baker Mayfield on first down for a yard loss. Then on third down he sacked Mayfield for a nine yard loss. The two plays changed the field position dramatically throughout the third quarter. Clemson rolled over the Sooners 37-17 and would meet Alabama in the National Championship game.
Verse the best team in the nation Kevin Dodd played the greatest game of his life. Alabama is called the Crimson Tide for a reason. When the tide starts rolling in their favor, it goes all their way as they quickly close out opponents. Dodd was the unusual phenomenon that kept Clemson from sinking away.
Dodd kept breaking through Bama’s line, stopping Alabama drives. In the second quarter, Dodd burst in, tackling fellow teammate Derrick Henry for a four yard loss. On the very next play Dodd sacked Jake Coker for another four yard loss. The two plays caused Alabama to go from 1st & 10 to 3rd & 18.
Needing to get the ball back in the 3rd quarter, Dodd pulled Coker down seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. The plays that Dodd made were catalysts to Alabama ending drives. Dodd was responsible for 46 negative yards by Alabama in total, through five tackles for loss and three sacks.
Dodd has easily shown the talent of a top-10 pick while his best performances came in the biggest moments. That may turn out to be his most valuable quality.