TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dalvin Tomlinson is Alabama’s other defensive end.
He should not be hard to miss at 6-foot-3, 310-pounds. He was a three-time Georgia state champion wrestler and former high school soccer player — and he is a pretty good football player, too. Tomlinson, however, is often overshadowed by All-Southeastern Conference teammate Jonathan Allen.
“Dalvin is a big part of this defense,” said Ryan Anderson, a linebacker for the top-ranked Crimson Tide. “He doesn’t get a lot of credit he deserves, but Dalvin is a monster. He’s been that way for a while.”
Tomlinson made seven tackles in last weekend’s win over No. 23 Mississippi for Alabama, which hosts Kent State on Saturday.
The senior was the first guy off the bench on Alabama’s ocean-deep defensive front last year, but didn’t log his first career start until the opener against Southern California this season.
Anderson rates Tomlinson’s hand placement technique as the best among the Tide defensive linemen and says he’s one of the fastest, too. He’s as likely to bat balls down with his long reach as to sack a quarterback, which is where Allen, Anderson and linebacker Tim Williams most excel and what typically draws the most attention.
That doesn’t seem to bother Tomlinson, who does have one sack this season and says he doesn’t feel underrated.
“Not really because I don’t look at it from the media standpoint,” he said. “I’m just here to help my team out and help us get the win. As long as I’m helping my teammates out, I’m happy with that.”
His career got off to a slow start after tearing his left ACL playing soccer as a senior at McDonough County High School in Georgia. He redshirted in 2012 and played in only one game the following season before tearing his right ACL.
Tomlinson wasn’t one of the Tide linemen’s more highly rated recruits out of high school and was a late addition to the recruiting class.
He’s undoubtedly the most accomplished wrestler of the group. Tomlinson went 49-0 as a senior and became the first Georgia heavyweight to win three consecutive state titles, losing only two matches in his prep career.
“The first one was my first-ever varsity match and I was nervous and lost by points,” said Tomlinson, who pinned his state title match opponent in nine seconds as a senior. “And the second one I got disqualified for hip-tossing a dude onto his neck.”
He feels like wrestling helped him learn the art of getting leverage as a defensive lineman. Tomlinson has also put on considerable weight, surprising Anderson when he tipped the scales at about 310 pounds recently.
“He’s been an outstanding player for us,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “He’s gotten better and better each year. He was a little bit undersized when we recruited him. He’s gotten bigger and stronger and now he’s a pretty effective player on a consistent basis.”
Tomlinson played in all 29 games off the bench the past two seasons after recovering from the knee injuries. Finally, he’s a starter for the defending national champions.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Tomlinson said. “I’m still trying to get used to it. Freshman year there was a lot of adversity I had to overcome being injured with the ACL. I just had to keep working through it and being here, coach Saban teaches you to keep grinding and working hard, (and) good things are going to come to you. So now I’m playing a lot and I’m just going to keep grinding for my teammates.”
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org