When Landon Dickerson transferred from Florida State to Alabama in June, he certainly expected some new experiences. He probably didn’t suspect that would include starting at an entirely new position.
Dickerson, a 6-foot-6, 308-pound redshirt junior who came to Tuscaloosa as a grad transfer, found himself in the starting lineup against New Mexico State last Saturday. That was especially sudden because Dickerson has been a guard for his entire career and never started at center in high school or college. But the job was thrust upon him due to injuries to the top two centers on the depth chart, Chris Owens and Emil Ekiyor Jr., and Dickerson responded with a performance that he called “a lot of fun.”
His exuberance was evident throughout his interview session Tuesday.
“I just like to play football how I think it should be played,” Dickerson said. “That’s just playing through the whistle, simple as that.”
Not every opponent appreciates that attitude, which Dickerson sees as gaining a mental advantage. One player in particular who will not be starting a Landon Dickerson Fan Club is Duke defensive lineman Edgar Cerenord. The Blue Devils’ defensive captain was ejected from the Crimson Tide’s season opener for punching Dickerson. He also got a farewell wave from Dickerson on his way out, a gesture captured (and replayed often) for a national television audience.
“We are playing football and that’s what it is all about,” Dickerson said. “Some people let things get in their head, and you know, if that happens, that happens. I just really enjoy what I do.”
Even some of Dickerson’s teammates aren’t quite ready to pay their Dickerson Fan Club dues — especially senior defensive tackle Raekwon Davis.
“He’ll tell you he hates me on the field,” Dickerson said. “We push each other. You can bring him up here (to the media podium) and he’ll tell you the same thing. Everybody gets a little frustrated at practice, but it’s nice because we practice not reacting physically and causing penalties.
“But it’s OK. If somebody hates me at practice, me and him will cut up in the locker room or outside of practice all of the time.”
One person who appreciates Dickerson’s aggressive attitude is head coach Nick Saban.
“He's one of the toughest guys we have on our team,” Saban said on Wednesday’s SEC coaches’ teleconference. He's got really great mental toughness. He's kind of wide open, which is the way we like him. His work ethic has been a real asset and a good example for other players on our team."
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt