Even former Detroit Lions great, Alex Karras, would love having Matt Dodge on his team. During his days of terrorizing NFL quarterbacks in the 1960s, Karras openly hated any kicking specialists, as he did not consider them football players. But, if that defensive tackle ever had a player like Dodge on his team, he would be smiling like the Cheshire Cat – grinning from ear to ear.
Not only has Dodge excelled as a punter, he has also proven to be one of the elite kickoff specialists in the collegiate ranks. He has also filled in as a place-kicker for field goals and placements, when needed.
He has also shown no fear running with the football, when his protection coverage breaks down. After uncorking a punt, it is commonplace to see Dodge racing down field and hurling his body at the returner in attempts to make the tackle. With the added bulk on his frame the last two years, opposing punt returners say that the ECU punter hits harder than a linebacker.
Combining his statistics from his freshman season at Appalachian State and his three years with the Pirates, Dodge ranks first among all active punters for yardage (11,209) and second for most punt attempts (261). His Football Bowl Subdivision punting average of 43.56 yards ranks second on that national active list (seventh overall with a 42.95 average).
Dodge's 220 punts at East Carolina rank fourth in school history and fifth in Conference USA annals. His 9,583 yards punting during his time with the Pirates rank third on the ECU career-record list and second among the league's punters.
Handling a variety of roles is nothing new to Dodge. At West Carteret High School, he was a two-time All-State kicker and punter, lettering three times. He was rated one of the top ten punters in the nation by The Gridiron Report and participated in the 2004 North Carolina/South Carolina Shrine Bowl and the North Carolina East/West All-Star Game. He also received academic achievement honors as a junior and senior and was named Class President as a freshman and senior.
Dodge enrolled at Appalachian State in 2005, seeing action in 12-of-15 games. He punted 41 times for a 39.66-yard average and had just thirteen of those kicks returned vs. him, finishing with a 35.20-net yard average. After the season, he left the university and enrolled at East Carolina in 2006, but did not join the football program.
In January, 2007, Dodge officially became a member of the Pirates football team. He was anointed special teams captain, as he ranked fourth in Conference USA with a 41.34-yard average on 80 punts, the most by an ECU kicker since the 1968 season. He had 24 of his attempts downed inside the 20-yard line and 16 that went for distances of at least 50 yards, but the team's coverage unit struggled, as two of his kicks were returned for touchdowns.
Dodge bulked up in the offseason, coming back stronger than ever in 2008. He earned All-American honorable mention, as he ranked second in the conference and 14th nationally with a 43.93-yard average on 73 attempts. He helped the team lead Conference USA and rank tenth in the FBS ranks with a 37.86-yard net average. He put 20 of his kicks inside the 20-yard line and had 25 punts for 50 yards or longer. Only 26 of his boots were returned by the opposition, as he twice tackled returners on those runbacks.
Dodge was named to seven different All-American teams as a senior. The Moorhead City native led the conference and ranked second in the nation with a 45.81-yard average, third best on the league's season-record chart. He had 26 of his 67 boots returned, helping ECU lead Conference USA while finishing seventh in the nation with a 39.12-yard net average.
Dodge played in 41 games at East Carolina, punting 220 times for 9,583 yards (43.56 avg) with three kicks blocked, a long of 73 yards, 31 touchbacks, 27 kicks that resulted in fair catches, 68 punts that were downed inside the 20-yard line and 22 others for 50 yards or longer…Including his freshman season at Appalachian State, Dodge played in 53 games during his college career, gaining 11,209 yards on 261 attempts for a 42.95-yard average, as he had 34 touchbacks, 34 fair catches, 73 downed inside the 20-yard line and 73 more for 50 yards or longer…Recorded six solo tackles and carried five times for 37 yards (7.4 avg) during his time at ECU, as he also kicked off 137 times for an average distance of 60.53 yards, as ten were ruled touchbacks and five tries went out of bounds…Had 81 of his ECU punts returned for 860 yards (10.62 avg) and two touchdowns, as he compiled a 36.83-yard net average for the Pirates…For his complete college career, 94 of his kicks were returned for 1,023 yards, giving him a net-yard average of 36.42 yards…Holds two of the top five punt yardage marks on the Conference USA season-record list, ranking fourth with 3,307 yards in 2007 and fifth with 3,207 yards in 2008…His ECU yardage total of 9,583 yards rank second in Conference USA and school history, topped by only the Pirates' Ryan Dougherty (10,112 yards, 2003-06)…His average of 45.81 yards in 2009 rank third on the league season-record list behind Andrew Bayes of East Carolina (48.06 avg, 1999) and Brad Hill of Tulane (46.19 avg, 1997)…His 80 punts for the Pirates in 2007 tied Mark Haulman of Southern Mississippi (2002) for second on the Conference USA season-record list, surpassed by Blake Clingan of Central Florida (88 in 2008), and were the most by a Pirates punter in a season since Billy Wightman's 84 kicks in 1968…His 220 punts at East Carolina rank fifth on the league career-record chart…Dodge's 73-yard punts in the 2008 Tulsa and 2009 Memphis contests rank as the seventh-longest kick in school history.
All-American first-team selection by The NFL Draft Report, earning second-team honors from College Football News, Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News, adding third-team accolades from Rivals.com and honorable mention from Pro Football Weekly…First-team All-Conference USA choice…Named to the 2009 College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Watch List for the nation's top punter...Two-time CFPA Punter-of-the-Week (vs. West Virginia and Memphis) and picked up CFPA Kickoff Specialist Performer-of-the-Week honors vs. North Carolina…Led the league and ranked second in the nation with a 45.81-yard average, the third-best season mark by a Conference USA punter…Punted 67 times for 3,069 yards, becoming just the second punter in league history to generate over 3,000 yards punting three times in a career…Had one attempt blocked (vs. Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl) and matched his career-long with a 73-yard kick vs. Memphis…Had seven of his punts result in touchbacks, seven others called for as fair catches, 24 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line (including three downed inside the 5-yard line and 11 inside the 10-yard line) and 22 others that went for at least 50 yards…Had 26 of his punts returned for 277 yards (10.65 avg), finishing with a 39.58-yard net average, seventh-best in the nation…
Recorded four solo tackles and rushed twice for 17 yards…Kicked off 62 times for an average distance of 61.6 yards, as six went for touchbacks.
2009 GAME ANALYSIS
Appalachian State…Playing vs. his former team, Dodge punted five times for 220 yards, as he had two tries downed inside the 10-yard line, including a 42-yarder that rested at the APSU 6-yard line in the third quarter…Also averaged 67.0 yards on six kickoffs, with one going for a touchback.
West Virginia…Dodge kicked seven times for 333 yards (47.57 avg) with two more kicks downed inside the 10-yard line…His late second quarter 53-yard punt was flubbed by Brandon Hogan and recovered by ECU, setting up a quick 4-yard scoring lob from Pirates QB Pat Pinkney to Jamar Bryant…Also had an average distance of 66.6 yards with one touchback on five kickoffs.
North Carolina…Dodge punted six times for a 48.83-yard average that included three kicks that were downed inside the 20-yard line…Kicked off four times for an average distance of 70.5 yards.
Memphis…The ECU punter kicked five times for a 53.0-yard average with a long of 73 yards and two boots that were downed inside the 20-yard line, including a 47-yarder downed at the Memphis 8 in the second quarter…The spin on his 43-yard first quarter punt resulted in a fumble by Chris Hobbs and ECU recovered it to set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Dwayne Harris…Kicked off seven times for an average distance of 61.1 yards, including one touchback.
Virginia Tech…Averaged 46.5 yards on eight punts that included three for 50 yards or longer…Tech fumbled Dodge's 44-yard punt midway through the second quarter and his third quarter 52-yarder was downed at the Tech 15.
Alabama-Birmingham…Punted three times for a 51.67-yard average, as he had his first kick, a 54-yarder, downed at the UAB 8…Took off around right end for a 19-yard run on a fake punt, setting up a 37-yard ECU field goal…Boomed a 65-yarder that was downed at the Tigers' 6-yard line in the third quarter.
Southern Mississippi…Averaged 50.5 yards on four tries, as he had a 60-yarder downed at the USM 18 in the first quarter…Averaged 60.5 yards on six kickoffs.
Houston (Conference USA Championship Game)…Dodge punted three times for a 41.0-yard average, as he had a 48-yarder downed at the Houston 12 in the first quarter and a 44-yarder that stopped at the Houston 10 in the final frame…Had one touchback on seven kickoffs for an average distance of 60.4 yards.
Arkansas (Liberty Bowl)…Dodge had his first kick blocked in two years, but made up for the miscue with five punts for 231 yards (46.2 avg), as his 63-yarder in the first quarter was downed at the Arkansas 7-yard line.
Other Notable Performances…Punted four times for a 42.75-yard average with two kicks downed inside the 10-yard line vs. Southern Methodist…Averaged 46.0 yards on four attempts that included a 63-yarder vs. Rice.
All-American honorable mention and All-Conference USA first-team selection by The NFL Draft Report…Ranked second in the league and 14th in the nation with a 43.93-yard average on 73 punts for 3,207 yards (yardage rank fifth in Conference USA history)…Had 25 punts for 50 yards or longer and 20 others that were downed inside the 20-yard line…
13 kicks resulted in touchbacks and opponents called for fair catches on eight others… Recorded two solo tackles, as he had 26 punts returned for an average of 7.04 yards per, finishing tenth in the nation while leading the league with a 37.86-yard net average…Had 71 kickoffs for a distance average of 59.59 yards with four touchbacks…Just missed on a 41-yard field goal attempt vs. Tulane, but did kick an extra point vs. the Green Wave.
2008 GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Set a new career high with 11 kickoffs for a career-best 646 yards (58.7 avg) vs. Texas-El Paso before booking season-bests in touchbacks (three) and kickoff average (67.8) vs. Tulsa in the Conference USA Championship Game, averaging 42.3 yards on seven punts that included a season-long 73-yarder among his three kicks that were downed inside the 20-yard line in that contest…Averaged 46.5 yards on four attempts with a long of 60 yards, as he averaged 60.2 yards on five kickoffs vs. Tulane…Punted eight times for 388 yards (48.5 avg) that included four boots for over 50 yards and a long of 60 yards, as two of those kicks were downed inside the 20-yard line…Averaged 44.8 yards on six attempts with a long of 70 yards and had four tries downed inside the 20-yard line vs. North Carolina…Punted eight times for a 47.0-yard average, as four went for 50 yards or longer, including a 66-yarder, while three kicks were downed inside the 20-yard line vs. Central Florida…Averaged 47.2 yards on six attempts vs. Southern Mississippi and punted eight times for 382 yards (47.8 avg) with a long of 68 yards and two others for 50 yards or longer, as two kicks were downed inside the 20-yard line vs. Kentucky in the Liberty Bowl.
Officially joined the Pirate program in January, 2007...Took over punting duties, as his 80 kicks rank second on the school season-record list and his 3,307 yards generated set the ECU annual record and rank fourth on the Conference USA season-record chart…Had 16 kicks for 50 yards or longer and 24 that were downed inside the 20-yard line…Two of his attempts were blocked, eleven resulted in touchbacks and twelve were called for fair catches…Had 29 punts returned for 400 yards and two touchdowns…Rushed three times for 20 yards (6.7 avg) and kicked off four times for a total of 242 yards.
2007 GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Booted a season-high nine balls for a season-best 396 yards in his Pirate debut at Virginia Tech, as he had a 60-yard punt in the second quarter vs. Hokies...Averaged 46.7 per punt in seven attempts at West Virginia, as four of his attempts went for 50 or more yards (51, 54, 54 and 61) vs. the Mountaineers...Matched his season-best with nine punts at Houston, placing five inside the 20-yard line...Punted four times for 195 yards, which netted a season-best average of 48.8 yards vs. Texas-El Paso, as he set a season-best with a 67-yarder in the first quarter vs. Miners...Punted seven times for 302 yards (43.1 avg) vs. Boise State and boomed a 61-yarder in the second quarter, which ranked as the second-longest punt in Hawaii Bowl history, as he also rushed once for five yards (fake punt in the fourth quarter that resulted in a first down) vs. Broncos.
Attended ECU but was not a member of the football program.
Played in twelve games as the primary punter at Appalachian State…Had 41 kicks for 1,626 yards (39.66 avg) that included ten punts for over 50 yards and five boots that were downed inside the 20-yard line…One punt was ruled a touchback and seven others resulted in fair catches, as just thirteen of his kicks were returned for 163 yards.
2005 GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Against Northern Iowa in the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship Game, Dodge logged seven punts for 293 yards while placing three inside the 20-yard line...Booted a 55-yarder twice - vs. Lafayette and vs. Northern Iowa).
Attended West Carteret (N.C.) High School, playing football for head coaches Greggory Watford and John Grady…Two-time All-State kicker and punter, lettering three times…Was rated one of the top ten punters in the nation by The Gridiron Report and participated in the 2004 North Carolina/South Carolina Shrine Bowl and the North Carolina East/West All-Star Game…Received academic achievement honors as a junior and senior and was named Class President as a freshman and senior.
Construction Management major…Born Matthew Dean Dodge on 5/30/87 in Morehead City, North Carolina.