TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Landon Dickerson has already made an impact at Alabama, even beyond his role in the ejection of a Duke defensive lineman.
The Alabama offensive lineman has started the first two games for the second-ranked Crimson Tide, once at right guard and once at center. It's a positive beginning for a player who had each of his first three seasons at Florida State cut short by season-ending injuries before leaving as a graduate transfer over the summer.
"He's one of the toughest guys that we have on our team," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "He's got really great mental toughness. He's never ever shown any signs of being worried about injuries or anything that's happened in the past. He's kind of wide-open all the time, which is the way we like them. I think his work ethic has been a real asset and a good example for a lot of other players on our team."
Dickerson has also become an important, versatile part of the line. Alabama is minus last year's starting left guard Deonte Brown for two more games under an NCAA-imposed suspension. The 6-foot-6, 308-pound Dickerson subbed for injured center Chris Owens against New Mexico State . He said it was his first action at center in either high school or college.
Saban appears optimistic that Owens could return Saturday at South Carolina, but it's clear Dickerson has carved himself a role — or roles. Saban praises his leadership, maturity and versatility.
Dickerson made his first big splash at Alabama in the Duke game . Defensive tackle Edgar Cerenord was ejected in the third quarter after stomping on Dickerson, and both lost their helmets in a scuffle away from the play.
Dickerson got plenty of TV time — for an offensive lineman, at least — with his animated reaction on the sideline.
"I mean, I just tried to finish the guy every play and eventually I guess it wore on him and then he just got a little frustrated," he said Tuesday. "He was a little too emotional."
It's what Dickerson called the "games within the game," getting a psychological edge over an opponent.
The main thing, though, is getting to play the actual game. Dickerson has been snake-bit in that regard during his college career despite quickly winning the starting job as a freshman. He was the first freshman offensive lineman to start a home opener at Florida State since Jamie Dukes in 1982. A torn ACL ended his freshman season after seven starts. Dickerson was sidelined after starting the first four games in 2017 and the opener last season.
He got a fresh start at Alabama, arriving just before fall camp after graduating.
Literally and figuratively, Dickerson was a big addition to a team replacing center Ross Pierschbacher and left tackle and first-round NFL draft pick Jonah Williams. Plus Brown for a third of the regular season.
Maybe Dickerson brought a little attitude to the mix, too, though he stops short of calling it a mean streak.
"I mean, I wouldn't say it is mean," Dickerson said. "I just like to play football how I think it should be played. That's just playing through the whistle. Simple as that."
He said he considered Alabama out of high school, but felt Florida State was a better fit. The Tide appealed to him this time around largely because of "just the standard that coach holds everybody to."
Dickerson isn't interested in ruminating on differences between the Alabama and FSU programs.
"I don't really want to speak anything negative," he said. "Florida State is a great school and it's filled with great people, great coaches. Here fit my personally a little better."