Closing Time

Closing Time

Memphis, Tenn., RB Mark Dodson knows his high school career, academically and athletically, is just about over. He attended the Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game Saturday to get a look at what life is going to be like in but a few short weeks.

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"I take my exams this week and then my classes are over," Dodson said about his upcoming graduation date. "I'm finished with high school on November 30th. It's gone by fast; real fast. I can't believe it's already here, to be honest."

Scout.com's #47 rated tailback is more excited than nervous about the transition he is about to make from high school to SEC football.

"I'm not nervous about it at all. I'm actually excited about it because it's another opportunity in my dreams."

The Memphis, Tenn., product has yet to close out his high school career athletically.

"We're 12-0 right now and are playing Germantown in the third round. They're an old-school rival of ours. They're 9-3 and it's going to be a brawl. We went all the way to the state championship game last season, but we fell short. This year nobody can stop us. We're playing with a chip on our shoulder. We have unfinished business."

Dodson is in the midst of a record-breaking seasons.

"Troy Fleming had the state record (3,008 rushing yards in 1998) but Dy'Shawn Mobley (3,068) broke it last year. Hopefully I can add my name to the record book. That was a big goal of mine before the season started. I have 247 carries for 2,563 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. We'll hopefully play in three more games, and I'm averaging over 210 yards a game rushing. None of that matters if we don't win the state championship, but if I'm running well, we're going to get the ring. It runs hand-in-hand."

The Whitehaven standout believes there's a reason for his increased production this season.

"I've gained some mass and strength to my frame (weight has jumped from 175 to 186), and I'm keeping my speed and agility. I'm just being very patient and letting the big homerun play come to me. I'm not looking for it on every run. When the opportunity is there, I'm gone."

Mark attended the Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game Saturday and sees an opportunity for immediate playing time in front of him.

"It showed me they need some help at certain positions. They don't have any depth at running back, and they don't have anyone who can run between the tackles. I'm not taking anything away from Jeff Scott. He's a great back, but he needs some help. If he gets some help everyone won't be keying on him. That's just more motivation for me to come in and be ready to play. I also come from a winning program. I like to win and that's another motivation for me. I want to come in and grind it out and earn the respect of my teammates. I want to be a team leader for those guys."

The Mr. Football Tennessee finalist left the visit with an even bigger belief that he made the right decision that Ole Miss was the school for him.

"Every time I step on their campus the fans and players make me two times more comfortable. They show me even more love."

Why is Ole Miss the best fit for him?

"Coach (Derrick) Nix and Coach (Hugh) Freeze were the first two coaches to offer me in 10th grade. Coach Freeze knew I wasn't going to end up at Arkansas State but he told me back then I was his guy. When he got hired at Ole Miss he told me that I was his number one running back and came after me hard. My aunt also graduated from Ole Miss a couple years back, and she told me how much she enjoyed it at Ole Miss. I started going over there a lot and just built a chemistry with their players and coaches. Ole Miss was one of the premier programs in the past, and I just think that coach Freeze can get them back there. We just need a few more players, and I think coach Freeze can make me a better man."

Ole Miss hosted many of the South's top prospects on Saturday with names like Robert Nkemdiche, Devante Kincade, Ryan Buchanan, Christian Morgan, Antonio Conner, Ashton Shumpert, Jason Carr, and Christian Morris, just to name a few.

Dodson put on his recruitment hat during the visit.

"I just told the guys that it was time we all come together and try and win a championship together. You can see how hard they're playing and how close they are. They just need some more players, and our class will be the one that puts them over the top. That's what I was telling everyone, and I think everyone knows it. I see guys like Christian Morris and Jason Carr around town all the time. They say it's looking good and liking the program. They see where I'm coming from. They're just going to take their time and make the best choice for them. It's all coming together though for us to have a special class. I'll already be in school at Ole Miss when they all start coming in for their visits. I have a chance to make a big impact in helping get those guys. I'm excited about that."


Yancy Porter is the Mississippi Scout for Scout.com and he can be reached at yporter@scout.com

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