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Clemson Football X-Factors: Kevin Dodd

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We all know about Deshaun Watson, Artavis Scott, and the other star players. In this article series, we take a closer look at the players you'll hear less about, but who may determine just how much Clemson can accomplish this season.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive End Kevin Dodd enters his fourth year in the program, but will have his first true opportunity to earn a firm grasp on a starting role. The Redshirt Junior out of Riverside High School (Greenville), has served as a reserve DE behind Vic Beasley, Corey Crawford, and Tavaris Barnes. That's quite a tough crowd to compete with for playing time, and as a result his snaps have been limited..

As a true freshman in 2012, Dodd had six tackles in 87 snaps across eight games. In 2013, his season was cut short after four games due to injury (toe). He returned last year and got eight tackles in 92 snaps across 12 games. Below you can see how his snap numbers compare to the other DEs on last year's roster:

Name Snaps Redshirt Year
Martin Aiken 22 Yes Sophomore
Tavaris Barnes 284 Yes Grad
Vic Beasley 557 Yes Grad
Corey Crawford 438 No Senior
Kevin Dodd 92 Yes Sophomore
Shaq Lawson 295 No Sophomore
Collins Mauldin 4 Yes Junior
Ebenezer Ogundeko 16 Yes Freshman
Dane Rogers 13 Yes Freshman
Richard Yeargin 0 No Freshman

"Maybe when Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford and the rest of those seniors get up out of here then I can just bring all my aces to the table." - Kevin Dodd

Dodd turned 23 years old in July (he spent a year at Hargrave) and is chomping at the bit to play a major role on the team. With Beasley, Crawford, Barnes, and Ogundeko departed - 1,295 snaps - Clemson needs him to do so in a big way! Defensive end is arguably the biggest question mark on the team. Shaq Lawson was very good as a reserve, but will be asked to do much more this year as the starting WDE. Kevin Dodd will need to anchor the other side of the line, lest the Tigers rely on unproven youngsters on the first team. With little depth behind them, the first team may get a great number of snaps.

The good news is he is supposedly looking quite good this offseason. Coach Swinney has called him "very, very consistent." In years past, buried on the depth chart and fighting through various injuries, it's understandable that he may have become a bit discouraged, but now he understands how important he is to the team. In his own words, "It's definitely me knowing I've got a responsibility,"

Clemson very much needs Kevin Dodd to set the edge and contribute to the pass rush. They simply don't have the depth at DE to absorb injuries or disappointing play. His success will have a huge influence on how the Tigers defense performs in 2015.