CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football program got a bit of a black eye Wednesday when reserve linebacker J.D. Dothard was arrested on a charge of domestic assault.
While coach Russ Huesman gathers information on the incident and decides on a punishment, the senior won't have to go far to find a support.
Dothard's younger brother, Wes, knows a bit about what he's going through. Wes was an self-proclaimed "immature" redshirt freshman last fall when he was arrested on an alcohol related charge. Now just 12 months later, he's proven to be the heart and soul of the Mocs' dominant defense.
"He'd show signs of being a good player, but it was always 'Stay on Wes about his grades. Stay on Wes about his weight. Stay on Wes about being on time,'" Huesman recalled. "It was just always 'Stay on Wes.'
At first 'staying on Wes' proved counter-productive. After redshirting his first year, Dothard rarely saw the field and did little to earn himself more time in his second.
"They'd be on me and I'd just pout," Dothard said. "I'm not playing a lot my freshman year, and just started thinking 'What's the purpose of being here.'"
Soon, Dothard realized it was up to him to determine that purpose. After an up and down first two years, the Carrollton High (Ga.) product took a good, hard, long look in the mirror and decided to make a change.
"I want to be an all-SoCon player, so I felt like I needed to grow up a little bit and step up," he said.
After spring camp, Dothard changed his workout routine, his film study and even his approach to school work. He joined safety D.J. Key for runs and workouts outside of voluntary team drills over the summer, and urged teammates to do the same.
Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, a renewed commitment to the team and to his future had Wes Dothard looking like much more than just an all-SoCon player.
"He's been incredible," Huesman said. "He said 'I'm going to do good in school. I'm going to be accountable to my teammates. I'm going to be in shape. I'm going to study the game.'
"It's worked. He's playing like an All-American."
The numbers back it up.
Dothard currently ranks in the top five in the nation in forced fumbles (4), top 20 in tackles for a loss (13.5) and top six in the SoCon in stops per game (9.2).
Now twelve months removed from a forgettable fall, the sophomore sensation looks ready to create some memorable ones in the years to come.
"I really didn't know that I'd be doing this good, but I just go out there everyday and work hard," Dothard said. "Putting in that extra time, it just seems like it's paying off now."
At the very least, coaches are no longer 'staying on Wes' to be a better player and person. He takes care of that himself.
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