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oakley aviators Alabama defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson 'mentally tougher' as he comes back from 2nd torn ACL Alabama defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) works through drills during the Crimson Tide's first 2014 Spring football practice, Saturday, March 15, 2014, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/vhunt@al.com)

-- Dalvin Tomlinson's done forever with the activity that led to his first torn ACL.

The second? No chance.

Alabama defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson talks with reporters after practice Wednesday, April 2, 2014.Before he arrived at Alabama in 2012, Tomlinson tore the ACL in his left knee while playing for his high school's varsity soccer team. Though he was healthy enough to participate in Alabama's practices, Tomlinson was too far behind to crack the defensive line rotation and see any playing time as a true freshman.

Just a few days after his impressive debut in Alabama's 2013 season opener against Virginia Tech, Tomlinson felt the same sort of pain in his right knee. His redshirt freshman season was over.

Though Tomlinson wrote off soccer after his first ACL tear, he never wavered with football. After months of rehabilitation, Tomlinson has been back with Alabama at full capacity throughout its 2014 spring practices.

"At first, I really couldn't believe it," Tomlinson said. "But after a while God has a plan for me, so it was something meant to be and it helped me out mentally."

Tomlinson picked up four tackles in the one and only game of his Alabama career. He didn't start, but he figured to receive significant playing time behind Ed Stinson or Jeoffrey Pagan at defensive end.

Tomlinson's injury occurred behind closed doors during a mid-week practice.

While he recovered for the second time, Tomlinson added some size to his frame. He's now listed at 299 pounds and has been seen lining up at all three of the positions along Alabama's defensive line.

"At first, it was the process of getting used to everything again. After a while I got used to everything," he said. "I think it made me mentally tougher than I was before because tearing an ACL at the beginning of the season you have to ... it hurts you mentally, so you have to come back through it and fight through it and just keep working hard and get ready for next season."

Perhaps no one on Alabama's roster has thought more about last year's season opener than Tomlinson. It was his only taste of the game he loves enough to continue playing after the worst sort of deja vu.

"The game motivated me a lot because I missed it so much," he said. "I'm super motivated right now to come back and play harder than I did last year."

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