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Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now: Dakota Dozier

Catch Up with the Jets Legend from Furman


All football fields are 100 yards long and 53.3 yards wide. But it's along the sidelines where rookies entering the NFL realize they're not in Kansas anymore. Or in Dakota Dozier's case, not in South Carolina anymore.

"I was used to about 1,500, with 4,000 being a big crowd at (Greenville's) Paladin Stadium," Dozier said. "And you step into MetLife, and it's a little bit different environment. And so I definitely remember, 'Man, I'm not playing FCS football anymore. I'm in the NFL.'"

A left tackle who appeared in 44 games with 43 starts over four seasons at Furman University, Dozier, who helped earn a share of the 2013 Southern Conference championship as a senior, was chosen by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft.

"I mean, I was obviously ecstatic to have my entry into the NFL," Dozier said. "I still remember answering the phone and hear (New York's Head Coach) Rex Ryan say, 'Hey, you want to be a Jet?' That's a memory that's going to be stuck in my head the rest of my life."

Although Dozier was inactive for all but one game during his rookie season, he displayed an admirable level of maturity and made the best of a situation that reminded him of his freshman year in college.

"I redshirted and that's kind of what I took as my rookie year to be. Alright, this year I get to just learn. I just wanted to consume," Dozier said. "One of the great things that year, I got drafted and immediately I was, 'Wow, I'm going to be in the same room with Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson. I'm going to learn from some of the best to do it. And so, yeah, I wanted to be as much of a sponge as I could be.

"I mean, obviously, I would have loved to step in and play right away, but that wasn't my role that year. And so I could have been woe is me. Or I could say, 'You know what? Let me learn everything I can and get ready for my opportunity when it comes.'"

It came the following season under a new coaching staff headed by Todd Bowles when Dozier played in five games, mostly on special teams, but not before a personally challenging beginning.

"Going into that second year, my mother passed away a month before training camp started, and that kind of rocked my life," Dozier said. "So football wasn't exactly my primary focus. But (the coaches) stepped in and I knew that they cared about me as an individual and let me work through those growing pains and figuring it all out.

"It was very nice to be able to actually just go up to Todd and talk football and talk life and all those things. Especially as a rookie, I didn't really understand the coach/player relationship as well. I got to really know Todd. It was so easy to talk to him and just figure out exactly what they did expect of me."

Over the next four seasons, they would come to expect that Dozier could step in when called upon and perform well.

"I still vividly remember my first couple starts, and just being able to say, 'Hey, not only did I achieve the goal of being an NFL, I achieved the goal of being a starter,'" Dozier said. "I remember how awesome it was to just go out there and play ball and break the huddle and just have that childhood love of the game. It was really special. I'm so thankful to be able to have done it in a Jets uniform.

"I played left guard, I played center, I played right guard, I took snaps at left tackle, I played some fullback, I played some tight end. It was neat to see that by the time I left, they really had a faith in me to be able to play whatever position it was they needed me to go play."

After five seasons with the Green & White, Dozier signed as a free agent with Minnesota in 2019. Spending three seasons with the Vikings, he started every game of the 2020 campaign at left guard. He then signed with Chicago in 2022, but injured his knee before being able to play for the Bears.

What makes Dozier most proud of his career?

"It was just really neat to come from that redshirt kind of season and don't play at all, to some inactive points throughout the rest of my time there, to fullback/tight end days, and then saying, 'I did it,'" he said. "I finally was a starter and stayed healthy through 16 games and play all those thousands of snaps. I look back on that and I'm pretty proud of it."

Now retired, Dozier is making his home in Raleigh, NC, with his wife, Haley, and their children: Zak and Evelyn.

"I'm so thankful to be a follower of Christ. I'm so thankful with what he's done in my life. I get to be a husband to Haley. I get to be a father to Zak and Evelyn. And just really taking this time to enjoy those relationships," Dozier said.

"Football was amazing. I'm so glad I got to do it. But it was more difficult to dive into those relationships just because of the time demand. And so this past year, I get to be husband, I get to be dad. It is so special to me to have those three in my life. I'm just so thankful for them."

In addition to spending more time with his family, Dozier hopes that in the next chapter of his life, he'll also be able to pay it forward as a high school football coach.

"Even before the league was a possibility, I had some really great men in my life who showed me what it was to be a man, and what it was to do that as a coach," Dozier said. "And so high school coaching is something that's always stood out to me.

"I think it's just an important time in their lives. Not that there aren't other important times, too. But that 14 to 18 is such a foundational time. And if I can help them be a great football player, that's cool. But if I can help them become a better man, I mean, that's what we're trying to do, right?

"I've started to make some connections, have reached out to some people to get to know them, and just see what it'd be like for me to step into that role. And so that's probably where I'll start and then go from there."

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