When it came time for Landon Dickerson to take the podium Monday within the Mal M. Moore football facilities, it didn’t take long for the 100-plus members of the media scrunched into their own individual zoom boxes to realize the 2020 Rimington Award winner—given annually to the top center in college football—was strictly there to “talk ball.”
Following a collegiate career littered with injuries, 2020 was no different for Dickerson, who was unable to compete in either of the Crimson Tide’s playoff matchups against Notre Dame or Ohio State. Those injuries, unfortunately, have become a commonality throughout the Hickory, North Carolina native’s young career.
A former Seminole at Florida State at the onset of his career, Dickerson entered the prestiged ACC program viewed as the future up front for the ‘Noles. As a freshman, Dickerson was tasked with leading Florida State as the quarterback of the line, starting from the time he arrived on campus. His future, however, couldn’t have represented anything he had envisioned for himself, finishing his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons spending much more time in street clothes than in uniform donning the Garnet and Gold in Tallahassee.
Fast forward two years to Monday, a day long overdue in Dickerson’s mind, and arguably the top center in the class is ready to prove he’s squashed the injury bug and is ready to play ball.
“Team’s don’t need to come [to Pro Day], they can watch the film to see if they want me or not,” Dickerson said. “They can also talk to our trainers and doctors if they want to figure out more details.”
He didn’t mince words, and frankly, why should he, Dickerson was exactly right. Film speaks volumes, and boy does Dickerson tout a heck of a highlight reel. For a center, it’s not easy to stand out on tape, especially at Alabama—especially in 2020—but Dickerson had a knack for drawing eyes during his time within the guts of the Crimson Tide offensive line.
If there’s one moment to show the importance and impact he had on the Alabama roster, look no further than possibly the lowest moment of his career in Tuscaloosa against the Florida Gators.
It’s evident the impact he had both on the field and in the locker room for the eventual National Champions, but don’t take it from me.
“I don’t know anybody on our team that doesn’t really like him, I think that was demonstrated by how everybody reacted to him getting injured,” head coach Nick Saban said.
The transition from the sidelines to the turf was difficult for Dickerson, who dealt with major adversity when he first arrived at Alabama as a grad transfer in 2019. Unsure of his role, he leaned on fellow 2020 projected draft selections Alex Leatherwood and Deonte Brown, both of whom worked in tandem adjacent to Dickerson in some capacity during the last two years.
“It was really about coming in and competing, it doesn’t matter if I was a grad transfer or a freshman… really you’re competing against some of the best athletes in the country at the collegiate level,” Dickerson said.
“That’s the biggest thing, you just have to accept the competition and be ready for it.”
Competing against the likes of Christian Barmore, Raekwon Davis, Dylan Moses, and Anfernee Jennings, for anyone, would prepare you for success, however, the pure desire to dominate the man in front of him has built Dickerson into the football player he is today and it’s something you “can’t fake.”
“Coming in, everyone’s competing for a starting job. There’s only a limited amount of positions available, and it didn’t matter if you did or didn’t play the same position, it was a battle day in and day out.”
A program built on a foundation of discipline and execution, Dickerson exemplified Saban’s standards to a T in just 25 games.
According to Dickerson, he’s “right on track” in his recovery, a welcomed sight for NFL executives who have thrown caution to the wind when coming to a consensus on his projection. Moving forward, for teams with a need in the nucleus of their line, look no further than the ripe pipeline that is the University of Alabama to produce the league's next dominant interior anchor in Dickerson, one of the most undervalued prospects in this year’s class.