The addition of Florida State graduate transfer Landon Dickerson to Alabama's offensive line was expected to provide the Crimson Tide a proven albeit injury-plagued backup.
Dickerson has altered that script through the first two weeks of the season.
The 6-foot-6, 308-pound redshirt junior from Hickory, North Carolina, started at right guard in Alabama's opening 42-3 win over Duke and started at center last Saturday in the 62-10 obliteration of New Mexico State. Head coach Nick Saban and offensive line coach Kyle Flood tabbed Dickerson at center last weekend due to injuries to Chris Owens and Emil Ekiyor, and Dickerson responded by helping the team rack up 595 yards and a 62-7 lead through three quarters.
Dickerson had never played center in a game at any level until last Saturday.
"I came here obviously not knowing what position I would play," Dickerson said this week in a news conference. "I'm here to serve a role, and that's wherever Coach Saban or Coach Flood feel I need to fit in. This last week was center, so I practiced it and tried to get better at it."
Playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium for the first time was a thrill, even if the heat index in Tuscaloosa topped 100 degrees, and Dickerson hasn't needed long to earn rave reviews from Saban.
"He's a veteran player with lots of experience at his previous school, and the fact he can play center or guard is always a real asset to any player," Saban said. "His leadership has been good. His maturity is good. His ability to adapt and play smart has been very helpful to the other players.
"In a lot of ways, he's been very positive."
Simply playing at all has Dickerson in a better place than during his time in Tallahassee.
Dickerson arrived at Florida State in 2016 with an abundance of promise as the No. 4 offensive tackle prospect nationally behind Greg Little (Ole Miss), Jonah Williams (Alabama) and Tommy Kraemer (Notre Dame). When the Seminoles played the second game of their 2016 season against Charleston Southern, Dickerson started at right guard, becoming the program's first true freshman offensive lineman to start since Jamie Dukes in 1982.
There would be seven starts for Dickerson that season, but his fabulous freshman run was halted by a torn ACL. He started the first four games of the 2017 season before being shelved with a season-ending setback, with last year consisting of starts against Virginia Tech and Louisville before going down again for the year.
Dickerson was able to redshirt last season, which allowed him two years of eligibility at Alabama, and Saban has not sensed the first hint of hesitancy Dickerson might have given his recent history.
"Landon is one of the toughest guys we have on our team," Saban said. "He's got great mental toughness, and he's never ever shown any signs of being worried about injuries or anything that has happened in the past. He's wide open all the time, which is the way we like him, and I think his work ethic has been a real asset and a good example for a lot of other players on the team."
Dickerson admits he can stir things up in practice from time to time, adding that Tide senior defensive end Raekwon Davis "hates me on the field." That changes on Saturdays, when he wins his new teammates over on an offense that has averaged 7.8 yards per play.
Where he plays Saturday when second-ranked Alabama visits South Carolina (1-1) in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams remains unknown. Owens is expected to return, which could bump Dickerson back to right guard.
"I just try to bring energy and be positive," Dickerson said. "I think that can help get a team through adversity at times, and that's what I want to be. I want to steady out the highs and the lows.
"I like where this team is, and I like where this team is headed."