TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- For Nick Perry and Dalvin Tomlinson, the season isn't only about wins and championships.
They want to savor their second chance with the Alabama football team.
Both began last season but went down early with season-ending injuries. Being back with the opportunity to contribute is something they won't take lightly.Perry was a fourth-year senior from Prattville, Alabama, who received a medical hardship wavier after shoulder surgery so he could play this season.
"I definitely appreciate being in training camp," Perry said. "I love it here. When they told me I had an opportunity to come back, I jumped at it. College football is one of the purest [forms] of football there is.
"You're playing with guys that you've been around since you were a freshman. You go to class with these guys, you hang out with these guys. Hopefully you win with these guys, too."
Tomlinson, of McDonough, Georgia, was a redshirt freshman when he injured his knee and required surgery.
That was his second knee surgery. The first was on his other knee after being injured in a high school soccer game; that forced him to redshirt in 2012 to rehab.
He had time to come back for his last three seasons, but still plans to make up for the two lost years. He'll only have three seasons with the opportunity to play.
"I'm pretty motivated because I pretty much missed the whole season last year," Tomlinson said. "That motivated me to work harder this offseason, so I'm coming into fall camp pretty hard."
Perry's shoulder is fully healed and he's hitting like before, but still doing rehab work to keep his strength up.
There wasn't one big play where Perry was hurt. Regular wear-and-tear caused the injury.
He's been a special teams player and backup in the secondary. Between his work during spring and preseason practice, he's in line to be a significant defensive player, if not the starter next to Landon Collins.
"It would mean a lot to me [to start]," Perry said. "You don't come here to stay on the bench; you come here to play."
Alabama coach Nick Saban likes Perry's versatility to play safety, nickel or dime. Being here five years makes him knowledgeable about the defense.
"He has always played in spots, but always been in the two-deep and had lots of reps and lots of turns," Saban said. "He has a really good understanding of our defense.
"He has no physical side effects at all from the injury. He's recovered well from that and is playing well so far in fall camp."
Tomlinson was expected to be a key part of the rotation in the defensive line last season before his injury.
He came back strong and has been playing well in spring and preseason practice.
"Dalvin's a really good athlete," Saban said. "You're talking about another guy that's a really hard worker and a classy guy in terms of how he goes about his work. He's improved even beyond that through spring practice and what he's done so far in fall camp."
With suspensions and injuries plaguing the line early in preseason practice, Tomlinson moved to the front of the line during drills. Saban feels he can anchor the line this season.
"If everybody on our team was like Dalvin, we wouldn't have many problems, I can tell you that," Saban said. "You're talking about a character guy there."
The Crimson Tide have been looking for leaders and several have stepped up this season.
Both Perry and Tomlinson fall into the category of leaders with their actions. Their passion for the game is something others try to emulate.
Perry's also graduating with a master's degree in December.
"It definitely comes up fast," Perry said his time in college. "That's a big thing now that I have to become a leader. I have to tell these guys you have to take advantage of your chances. You have to make it happen on the field and make it happen off the field by getting your degree and doing the right things."
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