Years Of Hard Work Pay Off For Demar DotsonSeptember 23rd, 2012
Five years ago, if Joe approached Demar Dotson when he was a senior at Southern Miss and explained he would win a starting gig on the offensive line of an NFL team someday and face the Cowboys in his first game after securing the position, Dotson likely would begin checking what Joe’s drink was spiked with.
In 2007, Dotson was finishing his fourth year of playing hoops at Southern Miss. He wasn’t much of a shooter, Dotson confesses, but he could sure block out. It would be an attribute that would pay off for him big time down the road.
Dotson had used up all his basketball eligibility and, per NCAA rules, he could play another sport one more year while he finished college. Thinking his athletic career was at an end, Golden Eagles football coaches talked him into playing football for the 2008 season.
Dotson had never played one snap of organized football in his life prior to the 2008 season. Dotson played six games that year and stared his final collegiate football game against SMU.
Now after a promising preseason and after incumbent right tackle Jeremy Trueblood under-performed and was dinged up, Dotson started last week at New Jersey and played so well, Bucs coach Greg Schiano named Dotson the Bucs fulltime starter at right tackle Tuesday.
“It is a privilege and an honor to have the job,” Dotson told Joe earlier this week, but I have to continue to work hard each day to get better. That is my main goal. It’s an opportunity. My effort doesn’t change now that I am a starter, just continue to work hard as I always did.”
It is one of the most unlikely stories in the NFL.
This is not lost on Bucs center Jeremy Zuttah.
“Dot has always been a great athlete,” Zuttah said. “Now, he’s focused on being a football player. In the past couple of years, he has been relying on athletic ability, just straight athletic ability. Now that he is starting to focus, the sky is the limit. He is getting better every day.”
The journey hasn’t always been easy for Dotson, which he readily admits.
“It has been a tough road,” Dotson said. “I never played the game before, never played the position before. It’s been a tough journey. I have a whole lot more to learn. Just keep grinding and do what my coaches tell me to do and prepare each day to come out here and work.
Given Dotson’s young age and his still limited experience in the game, Joe smiles at thinking what Dotson may be able to be should he stay healthy. Perhaps what Bucs fans have seen thus far is just scratching the surface.
As Zuttah pointed out, sky is the limit.