It’s just moments before the 2016 season opener as Kaden Dodge jogs to the sideline ripping off his helmet and confidently yelling words of encouragement. Everything is in focus as he hypes up the defense as they go through their final preparations before taking the field.
When Dodge speaks, everybody listens.
It’s a respect the six-foot-one, 220-pound senior linebacker has earned entering his third varsity season with the Liberty Lions.
“He’s very coachable, he listens right and he’s a good leader,” head coach Mark Smith told Sports360AZ.com. “Probably above all he’s a great person.”
Part of being a good leader is being able to adapt. After playing the past two seasons at safety, Dodge has transitioned to linebacker taking his football instincts closer to the line of scrimmage. He’s hoping to build off his 65-tackle, two forced fumble junior season and show colleges he can make the jump.
He did nothing over the summer to hurt those chances turning heads while walking away as camp MVP at the University of Washington. The Huskies, along with ASU, Colorado, NAU and UC-Davis have shown interest in the likeable, good-looking Dodge. He already holds one offer from Adams State.
“That was an awesome camp,” Dodge told Sports360AZ.com about his time in Seattle. “The venue and coaching staff was incredible. It was just a blessing to go up there.”
Part of Dodge’s success tracking down running backs and receivers can be attributed to his time spent wrestling. He gave up the sport a couple years ago to focus on football but some of the traits on the mat have helped between the lines, as well.
“When I’m going in for a tackle [I know] I’m coming out with something,” Dodge said flashing a wide smile. “Whether that’s a hip or a leg or an ankle. I know I’m coming out with something.”
Dodge, a solid student who wants to pursue physical therapy in college, doesn’t have much free time and that’s just fine. The sport is family affair in the Dodge family.
“It’s really all about football,” he explained. “My little brother plays football so I’ll go and watch his games or it’s just me trying to get my body to recover for the next week so right now during [the] season it’s all football. It never stops.”
Another thing that likely won’t stop is the attention from college coaches if Dodge continues to impress under the Friday night lights in the west Valley.