Brady Dodd figured a year ago at this time that he would follow Ozark’s trend of quarterbacks being one and done.
Cannon Cox and Jace Easley were both standout defensive backs as juniors, before making the move to quarterback for their senior season the past two years.
Likewise, Dodd was backing up Easley at quarterback while preparing himself to start as a junior in the Tigers’ secondary.
But by September, Ozark coach Chad Depee switched quarterbacks, leading to Easley shining at wide receiver and cornerback and Dodd quickly developing into a dual-threat out of the Tigers’ backfield.
Dodd completed 47-of-82 passes for 895 yards and rushed 110 times for 402 yards.
Naturally, as he gets set for his second time around behind center, Dodd values the experience he gained.
“Jace was a senior and was good enough to play the position. We were all confident in him playing quarterback,” Dodd said. “I was playing where I needed to play. I had no issues with not playing quarterback. But when I did get to switch, I was ready to go.
“Usually, a lot of fast quarterbacks are coming in off of their junior season playing defense or another position (on offense), before they become the starting quarterback their senior year,” he added. “I'm lucky enough and grateful enough to have last year's experience as a junior.”
Dodd had one of the finest nights any Ozark quarterback has ever had in the Tigers’ 63-48 loss to eventual Class 5 state champion Webb City. He was 16-of-19 passing for 318 yards and three touchdowns, to go along with three touchdown runs.
Ozark’s 48 points are the most points anyone has scored on mighty Webb City going back 17 years.
Dodd has his sights set on more production and more wins this season.
“There's always the goal to do better than the year before,” he said. “You want to improve and be better.”
Unlike some of the COC’s other elite returning quarterbacks, Dodd didn’t spend this summer attending quarterback camps or showcasing his skills in front of college coaches. During late May, June and the first half of July, he was on the ball diamond with Ozark’s Baseball Club.
This past spring, Dodd batted.311 with 17 RBIs and 14 runs scored primarily as a second baseman and had a 2-1 W-L record with a 2.76 over 25.1 innings while pitching for the Tigers.
He’s gunning to play at the next level in baseball, not football.
“It's been a goal of mine for a long time to play college baseball,” Dodd said.
Since baseball season ended, his focus has been on football.
“I had a good summer playing baseball,” Dodd said. “Our summer team played two weekends into July. It's been a quick transition, but it's an easy balance for me and some of the other guys who do the same.
“I’ve been knocking off the rust in summer camp,” he added. “I've got to get the transition (complete) from baseball to football. It's been going good.”
Dodd reports the transition from throwing a baseball to a football doesn’t take him long.
“Obviously, the football is quite a bit bigger. Your arm action shortens up and you've got to go from setting (to throw) by your ear, instead of all the way back when you're throwing a baseball,” Dodd said. “It’s just simple mechanical stuff and not a big deal. It comes pretty naturally once you start getting into it again.
“I've been throwing a football long enough that I can get right back into it and have no issues,” he added. “My arm is obviously in shape coming off of baseball season. For football, I keep the same mechanics I have every year and try to improve and sharpen those up.”
Dodd has been a quarterback for about as long as he can remember.
“I’ve never played a different position on offense. I always played quarterback from my very first year of playing football to now,” he said. “My Dad was my coach when I was a little kid and he knew I could throw. One of his best friends (Tom Norrid) was also my coach. They both felt like I could play that position. From the beginning, they had me there. They were confident putting me there when I didn't know any better.”
With his second go-around as Ozark’s starting quarterback likely to be his final go-around on the gridiron, Dodd is trying his best to make each day count.
“It's bittersweet. I'm trying to make the most of this year, knowing that it will probably be my last time on a football field,” Dodd said. “It's pretty important to me to have fun and take in everything.
“I’m ready to go and very confident in our guys,” he added. “It's been a fun last three years and I can't wait to have a fun senior year.”