By Pearson Fowler and Stephen Dixon
The following interview with Dakota Dozier, an offensive tackle for Furman’s football team and a prospect in the upcoming NFL draft, is edited from a recent interview for the Dixon and Fowler radio show. The show airs on Furman’s WPLS station (www.furmanwpls.com) on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at 9 p.m.
How did Furman best prepare you for this process of being a draft prospect?
Every day, we would come in and the coaches would train us the best they could. Whatever it was — whether it was getting ready for a scheme that an opposing defense would run, teaching us proper technique, or helping us get stronger in the weight room — just the entire organization at Furman made sure we were the best we could be, on and off the field.
What would you say was your favorite moment as a Furman football player?
Personally, I would say my favorite moment was this year, winning the Southern Conference Championship. It was the first time that I had ever won a championship, and it was the most wins I’ve had as a player so it was really fun watching the team come together and fight the adversity of having 14 guys have surgeries throughout the year, and we battled the whole year. Also, playing at Clemson was pretty exciting for me; I’m from South Carolina, from Columbia, so it’s a local school, and actually, my aunt went to Clemson, and she was able to come back (she lives in Dallas), and she was able to be at the game, which was exciting for me.
You have played against some really fantastic talent, so who would you say is the best opposing player that you have lined up against at the collegiate level?
Vic Beasley; Malachi Goodman, who’s playing for the Falcons; Cliff Matthews, who’s also playing for the Falcons; Ronald Powell, defensive end at Florida; Sharrif Floyd, first round pick to the Vikings … a lot of good talent. I’ve definitely had the opportunity to play a lot of good players throughout my career.
That’s quite a resume there. At what point in your career did you realize that you had NFL talent?
I would say after sophomore year it really became more apparent. I started getting a little more attention from the media. It’s always been my dream, but it started to look more like it had a chance of coming true, and when that happens, you just start working really hard. It’s been a really fun ride, and I’m just trying to make the most of it.
What has been the coolest or most fun part of this experience so far? You’ve done the East/West Shrine game and several other events, what would you say your favorite has been?
I’m not really sure to be honest; I’ve really enjoyed it all. Whether it’s been training here in Atlanta, the time I put in everyday there, trying to get better at East/West and meeting a lot of guys. It was really cool at the East/West Shrine, the offensive linemen got together and started hanging out and got really close, and in that short week, it was amazing how close you got to each other. I think it really showed when we came out and played as a unit. Even at the East/West Shrine, getting the chance to sit down with scouts from pretty much every team, coaches, GMs — it was just an awesome experience.
So your next step is the combine, and that obviously requires a lot of training. What kind of training do you do and with whom do you train?
I train with Chip Smith, here in Atlanta. He has done a great job, and he’s had a hand on 1,300 different guys who have been to the NFL, so he’s definitely got a good thing going here. My daily routine: I get up at 6:30 a.m., get to the facility at 8 a.m., and from 8-9:30 a.m., we’re on the field doing different speed drills and footwork drills. From 9:30-11:30 a.m., I’m in the weight room. Mondays and Thursdays are upper body, Tuesdays and Fridays are lower body, and Wednesday is a pool workout for us. Then, from 12:30-2:30 p.m., I work with an offensive line coach on different hand drills, different footwork and everything, so it’s a full day, and I really enjoy it.
Wow, yeah that’s a lot going on. Ok, so what’s harder to do: wake up at 6:30 a.m. to work out or wake up at 8:30 a.m. to go to class?
Absolutely 8:30 a.m. to go to class.
Would you say that there is one player that you really model your play after?
I really haven’t thought about that. I watch a lot of NFL and know a lot of different linemen, but I’ve never really compared my game to any of them. I know the obvious names, but I’ve never really thought about that. That’s something I’ll have to look into in the future.
You have played offensive tackle for most of your career. What types of challenges are associated with making the switch to guard that you are most likely to make?
Well, I started 45 games at Furman: 43 at tackle and 2 at guard, so that is definitely a lot more in favor of the tackle, but I’ve just embraced the experience, and I’m really trying to make the most out of it. Throughout the season, I got a lot of opportunity to practice at guard but didn’t get a chance to play until late in the year. But it’s fun. For me, I want to be as versatile as possible to any NFL team that I end up with. I’ve played tackle for a long time, and I feel like, in a pinch, if they need me to, I could still play. Everybody is projecting me as a guard, so I just embrace it. For the past three months, all I’ve done is just work on guard sets. It’s kind of hard to get rid of some of those tackle tendencies, but I just have to get used to the different mechanics and get ready to go.
Do you have any weird superstitions or things that you do before games?
Nothing too crazy. Every Thursday night, I would eat at the same place for dinner. That’s not too superstitious; it just happened to be convenient for me. I would only let one trainer tape me on game day. That’s really it. I have a certain playlist I listen to before games. I don’t put a spoon in my sock or anything.