UNT QB Dodge moving to receiver

Updated: April 5, 2010, 11:45 PM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

North Texas' Riley Dodge has moved from quarterback to wide receiver because of recurring problems with his throwing arm.

UNT coach Todd Dodge said the decision was made after an MRI this week revealed damage to the ulnar nerve in his son's right elbow, the residual effect of two serious arm injuries in the last three years.

"We did a lot of soul searching and talking over the weekend and came to the conclusion it was the best thing for him and our football team," Todd Dodge said. "It's definitely a tough decision, but he was getting to the point where he wasn't able to make it through three or four periods of practice and still be able to lift his arm."

Riley Dodge, who is entering his redshirt sophomore season, was a two-time Class 5A offensive player of the year as a quarterback at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High School, where he succeeded current New Orleans Saints backup Chase Daniel and Alabama starter Greg McElroy.

He originally made an oral commitment to play receiver at Texas before deciding to play quarterback for his father. Todd Dodge was hired by North Texas in 2006 after coaching Southlake Carroll to its fourth state championship in five years.

Dodge suffered a third-degree separation of his right shoulder on the final play of his high school career, when he was hit as he threw a touchdown pass after a spectacular scramble in a 2007 playoff game against Abilene. He broke his right forearm in UNT's 2009 season finale against Arkansas State and wasn't cleared to throw until March, a few weeks before the Mean Green started spring practice.

"My arm hasn't been the same since after I was a senior in high school and had the shoulder surgery," said Dodge, who completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 1,975 yards and nine touchdowns with 15 interceptions for the 2-10 Mean Green last season. "I knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but I never saw in the future that I'd be switching positions. I had my good times and bad times last year at quarterback."

The position switch is permanent. Dodge (6-0, 193) practiced at receiver Monday. He played receiver as a true freshman before receiving a medical redshirt because of a concussion.

"It's the hand that he's been dealt, but he's excited about it," Todd Dodge said. "He's embraced it. He'll try to be the best receiver he can be. I personally think he can be a really good one."

Added Riley Dodge, who hopes he can avoid elbow surgery: "This is what I'm going to do for the next three years here. I'm just ready to let loose and play football."

Senior Nathan Tune and sophomore Derek Thompson will compete to be the starting quarterback.

Tune, a former walk-on from Celina, Texas, completed 69 of 107 passes for 646 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions as the backup last season. He started in a loss at eventual national champion Alabama when Dodge was sidelined with a left shoulder injury.

Thompson had his redshirt pulled in the fourth quarter of the season finale, when Dodge and Tune were injured, and almost engineered a comeback against Arkansas State. Thompson completed all three of his passes for 60 yards and a touchdown on his only drive.

"I still feel really good about our quarterback situation," Todd Dodge said.