By BEN JOHNSON
Lane Dortch loves lending a hand to those in need. It’s fitting, then, that he wants to be a firefighter once he wraps up his college education at Northeastern State.
It’s also quite appropriate that he specializes at the fullback position for the RiverHawks. Nowhere else on the field is he more apt to help other players out. After all, Dortch’s main role is to set lead blocks for a running back or protect the quarterback from a blitzing linebacker.
“You’re just putting yourself out there for other people,” said Dortch while describing the duties of a fireman while also summing up the fullback position.
“...I love to help people. And if I can go out there and save somebody’s life, I think that’s something I would enjoy.”
For now, Dortch, a former standout at Fort Gibson High School, will have to settle for assisting on NSU’s offense.
Getting the bulk of the work at fullback in the spring, Dortch will settle into a back-up role during the 2013 season. Dortch will be backing up Nick Whitlow, who was granted an extra year of eligibility.
“Hopefully I’ll get some time on special teams, too,” said Dortch, a 6-foot, 220-pound redshirt freshman. “I just have to keep getting better and possibly try and get more playing time as a sophomore.”
But as NSU head coach Kenny Evans pointed out, Dortch is closer to regular playing time than he thinks.
“Lane has a chance to be a three-year starter,” Evans said, “and he’s always one play away from being a full-time starter.
“He still has to adjust to the game, but he did a good job of that in his first year.”
When it comes to mentors on the RiverHawks’ offense, there aren’t many better options than Whitlow.
“It’s a good experience,” Dortch said. “I learned a lot on the field, but I also learned about keeping your head right in college and learning plays. Getting to learn from a senior in front of you, that’s pretty good knowledge to have in front of you.”
While Dortch appears primed to take over Whitlow’s spot for years to come, he could very well become an anchor in the middle of NSU’s defense. Evans would be lying if he said he hadn’t considered it.
“He fit a need, so right now he’s backing up Whitlow,” Evans said. “But he would be a guy we could move to middle linebacker in a second when Jack Gray graduates — or if something happens. He handles the ball great, but he’s one of the surest tacklers we have.”
Dortch played on both sides of the ball in high school, and he said he’s open to wherever the NSU coaching staff wants to put him.
“I want the coaches to put me in the position that I need to be in,” Dortch said. “I feel like they do a real good job of putting players where they need to be, so it’s basically up to Coach Evans.”
Regardless of which side of the ball Dortch finishes his career on, Evans said it’ll be a special tenure turned in by a player wearing the green and white.
“He has a chance to be a special player here,” Evans said.