Local athlete competes in College Football Playoff

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Just after 9 a.m. Saturday morning, when he would probably rather be in bed, Dalvin Tomlinson stood on the floor of Amalie Arena in Tampa, listening politely as an ESPN reporter asked him what Nick Saban eats for breakfast.

Such is the life for a key member of the most prominent college football team in America.

Dalvin Tomlinson talks to an ESPN reporter during Saturday morning’s Media Day session leading up to the College Football Playoff national championship game. Photo by Monroe Roark

Tomlinson followed up a spectacular high school career, in which he was All-State in football and a three-time state wrestling champion at Henry County High School, with a move to the Alabama Crimson Tide, where his playing time has included three trips to the College Football Playoff and two appearances in the national championship game.

“It’s a transition period,” he said during Saturday morning’s Media Day activities of the move from high school to big-time college football. “You have to be ready for a lot of hard work and, depending on your position, you have to be patient.”

After redshirting in 2012, Tomlinson played one game in 2013 before a knee injury ended his season. In 2014 he was part of the regular rotation on defense and in 2015 was the first defensive lineman off the bench in every game. The fact that this is his first year as a full-time starter is a testament to the Tide’s depth at virtually every position.

Tomlinson wrote an essay published last week on the Players Tribune, a website in which college and professional athletes give first-person accounts of their lives and careers. He wrote about how he was so well prepared for Saban’s brutal practices because of his time in the wrestling room at HCHS, playing for Marty Hutsell and Doug Hutsell. His high school football coach was Mike Rozier.

“Those practices were on a whole different level,” Tomlinson said with a smile when asked about the wrestling comment.

Tomlinson has not been back to McDonough very often in the past five years. He has been understandably busy, having already earned one degree and currently working on another while playing football. He said nearly all of his family still lives in Henry County.

He was initially committed to Georgia Tech but switched to Alabama late in his senior year. “Once I got there, I knew it was the place I needed to be,” he said.

Tomlinson gave a shout to Jonathan Jean-Bart, a teammate at Henry County and a recent graduate of Georgia State. The two played together growing up and have been best friends since fourth grade.

“He always challenged me and kept pushing me, even though he was a running back and I was a defensive lineman,” said Tomlinson.

Now that his college football career is behind him after Monday night’s game, he is looking toward the possibility of playing on Sundays next fall in the NFL.

“It’s a dream of mine,” he said. “I couldn’t have found a better place [than Alabama] to be ready for it.”