Dorian Wood: The Silent leader

Nick Walton

Junior guides defense with his actions

Shaye A. Painter | Daily Kent Stater Junior linebacker Dorian Wood made 13 tackles in Kent State’s last game against Eastern Michigan.

Credit: DKS Editors

Balancing responsibilities as a biology major with a focus in pre-med and a linebacker for the Kent State football team, junior Dorian Wood is busy.

Even with a hectic schedule, Wood is becoming a leader on defense for the Flashes.

“We don’t ask Dorian to be a vocal leader,” Kent State linebacker coach Craig Aukerman said. “Our biggest thing with Dorian is, ‘Hey, you got to be a leader by setting a good example.’ He does that academically, which is great because everyone knows that he’s going to be the one studying late at night, getting his academics straight.”

Playing behind linebackers Derek Burrell and Cedrick Maxwell, Wood only started two games in the first two years of his career. Wood said he learned the significance of playing hard behind those linebackers.

“In high school, you can loaf and not hustle and still be a good player,” Wood said. “In college football, you got to play hard every snap and every play.”

With Burrell and Maxwell’s departures, Wood said coaches wanted him to start thinking more as a starter instead of a backup. Wood adjusted to being a starter by adding to his busy schedule.

“This year I’ve watched a lot more film, and I’ve studied the other team a lot more,” Wood said. “As a backup, I wouldn’t look at (any) film; I would just go out there and just play, but I really am preparing for every play and every snap as a starter.”

In his first season as linebacker coach at Kent State, Aukerman said watching extra film has made Wood become a better student of the game.

During his tenure at Miami, Aukerman coached three All-MAC linebackers. Aukerman said the Flashes’ linebacker core is starting to follow a similar work ethic.

“Every single thing about (players) lives is very important, and they got to compete every single day in what they do,” Aukerman said. “With the guys that I coached at Miami, they took that to heart . most of those guys I coached watched film for at least a good hour and a half every single day, and now I think Dorian, (junior linebacker) Cobrani (Mixon) and those other guys are starting to understand what it takes to be a good defense and to be a good linebacker.”

Wood’s preparation is starting to make an impact on the field. Coming off a career-high 13 tackles against Eastern Michigan, Wood is currently fifth on the team in tackles with 33.

“He’s playing very physical right now, and that’s what we need from him,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “He’s really good at getting off blocks even when a linemen’s on him or a fullback comes to block him. He’s good at shedding people and using his hands and being able to make a play.”

After suffering a concussion against Baylor, Wood sat out against Bowling Green before playing last Saturday.

“I wasn’t really uptight, I just played loose and played like I knew I could play all the time,” Wood said. “I thought I had six or seven (tackles) at the end of the game but when (the statistics) said 13 that kind of threw me off.”

Wood’s improvement this season could be partially because of no pain in his knee. Against Northern Illinois in 2007, Wood tore his ACL and missed the final two games of his freshman season.

Despite going through surgery and recovery, Wood said the injury slowed him down during his sophomore season. After making a full recovery, Wood is thankful for the ability to play football.

“I know 20 years ago, when they didn’t have ACL reconstruction surgeries, if I’d been injured, I would not be playing football right now,” Wood said. “I’m just thankful to be out here playing football.”

Auckerman said Wood’s performance against Eastern Michigan is because of his hard work and an increase in confidence, but also because of a sense of urgency.

“He probably knows ‘I don’t have very much football left in me,'” Auckerman said. “Each and every week he knows, ‘Hey, I might not have another opportunity to go out there and play football.’ So it’s been really exciting to watch him grow and become a better football player.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].