Coach Mike Rozier has watched defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (McDonough, Ga./Henry Co.) grow up and knows that he might never see another player like him.
“He is not your typical football player, that is for sure,” Rozier said.
Tomlinson is a highly sought-after prospect with offers from just about every Southern powerhouse program. But Rozier isn’t referring just to Tomlinson the football player.
“The most impressive thing about Dalvin is his overall character,” Rozier said. “He’s a very humble, very quiet young man. Very intelligent, a true Renaissance man. He is a great artist, can sing and play instruments -- very well-rounded, especially for a defensive lineman. He never questions, he just does what he is supposed to do, on and off the field. His mom passed away recently. She did a real good job with him.”
Rozier was referring to Melinda Tomlinson, who passed away last June mainly due to complications arising from diabetes. When Dalvin was 6, he lost his father, who died of complications from lung cancer. The younger Tomlinson surely could use his mother’s help right now with his decision.
“There is not a father involved, never has been,” Rozier said. “He lives with his aunt, Mary Tomlinson, and his brother and I think his grandmother. It was tough. They [Tomlinson and his mother] were very close. She was very close in his life. I just can’t imagine what he is going through. We have been trying to help him and guide him, the coaches here and myself. Ultimately it will be his decision.”
The outcome of that decision so far is a complete mystery, even to his coach of many years.
“I have a very tough time getting a read on him,” Rozier said. “I really don’t know where he is coming from, especially with this recruiting stuff. I can’t get any answers out of him. He is going to make his announcement on signing day. He might make a decision before that.”
Tomlinson told DawgNation that at one point the Bulldogs were at the top of his list, but they fell after the Georgia coaches seemed to lose interest. Georgia intensified its recruitment of Tomlinson, and he had planned to visit Athens on Monday, but he did not make the trip.
“He said something happened family wise and that kept him from going,” Rozier said. “I don’t know if he has rescheduled or anything.”
Whatever school lands Tomlinson, it will be getting not only a Renaissance man but a diesel engine.
“He is an outstanding athlete, very athletic for a D-lineman,” Rozier said. “He has great feet, great hands and great leverage, especially being a wrestler. He’s got quickness -- everything you could want in a lineman. And he just has a motor, a tremendous motor. It seems like he just never stops -- and that is playing both sides of the ball. He plays offensive tackle for us so he was having to play both sides of the ball.”
Tomlinson’s potential to play offense has not been missed by college scouts.
“He could easily be recruited as an offensive lineman,” Rozier said. “Alabama liked him when they first saw him; the offensive line coach at Alabama fell in love with him.”
A two-time state wrestling champion, Tomlinson wants to win a third state title before he leaves school, but the constant recruiting is not helping him reach that goal.
“With all the visits and recruiting, he hasn’t gotten the mat time he wants,” Rozier said. “The team isn’t as strong as it was before but he looks great. He got down to 255 during football season -- I don’t know if he was eating all of the meals his mom was making before she passed -- so he looked a little thinner. He has since put that weight back on and is all muscle.”
The wrestling experience Tomlinson has gained is also helping him on the football field.
“Wrestling is all about leverage and football is all about leverage,” Rozier said. “Wrestling helps him with his feet. The transition is easy. He moves like a cat.”
Cat-like reflexes aren’t going to help Tomlinson decide among on the 40-plus offers he has on the table, including one from Harvard. He will have to rely on his 3.9 GPA and maybe develop a mean-streak.
“The bottom line is that he is a nice kid and in this recruiting process it is very hard for him to say ‘no’ to people,” Rozier said. “I have tried to help him by taking some of that on my shoulders, but he still can’t say no.”