The first time he tried out for a football team his only tennis shoes were a pair of Chuck Taylor’s. Now, five years later, offensive lineman Roderick Tomlin starts every game for the Racers and hopes to continue for as long as he can.
Initially his parents, especially his mother, were worried Tomlin’s grades would slip if he joined the football team. It took him a year to get his academics in order, but once he did he made a definitive impact on his high school team.
“I’m a Marine kid,” Tomlin said. “Both of my parents were in the Marines. My dad did 24 years. After my dad retired we settled down in Jackson, Tenn., where I went to seventh grade on up. I went to high school at Jackson Northside. I didn’t even start football until my 10th grade year. I missed the try-outs for eighth grade and in ninth grade Mom told me to focus on school and not worry about sports, so my 10th grade year was my first time.”
Like all other beginning athletes, Tomlin had to pay his dues but after a year on the junior varsity team he was ready to play varsity.
“During 11th and 12th grade I started on varsity,” he said. “I only missed two games and that was because of a broken hand. As a matter of fact, my senior year was the first year my football program had a winning season. It was a big turnaround.”
Despite the success of Tomlin’s team, his being a Racer nearly didn’t happen. Following his high school football career Tomlin received two offers from colleges he wasn’t happy with.
“Coming out of high school, I only had two offers and those were Bethel University and Rose College,” he said. “When I looked at them, I knew they weren’t places I wanted to go. I thought I’d just do academic. One of the coaches out of the previous coaching staff was friends with our defensive coordinator and he came down just to talk with the coach. Then he saw us playing and said ‘Who’s that big guy coming off the field?’”
That big guy was Tomlin.
“He gave me his card and told me to keep in contact,” Tomlin said. “I came up for a visit the same day I had an interview for the Marvin Mills scholarship and put in an application here and the next thing I knew Murray had offered me a spot.”
Although he was excited to continue his football career, Tomlin admits he wasn’t always so sure about Murray State.
“When I came here I didn’t know anything about Murray,” he said. “I was just glad to be playing football, but once I came here I just got embraced by everyone. They’re like my family.”
As such, his immediate plans following graduation are to keep taking care of his Murray family.
“If I take care of my plans academically, I’ll graduate in May of 2012,” Tomlin said. “If that goes along, my plan is to come back for my fifth year and start my master’s degree while playing football and hopefully we will have won the OVC this year, but we’ll have helped the team go back-to-back in the OVC for the first time in a long time.”
Ultimately, though, the junior math major will end up pursuing a far different goal from the one he started his career at Murray State with.
“I’ve always had a love for kids, so when it’s all said and done I actually want to go back and work my way into the middle or elementary school and be a teacher and a coach as well,” Tomlin said, “That way I can pass my wisdom down to the kids.”
This weekend Tomlin’s family will be in attendance despite the distance between them and Tomlin’s first home game of the season.
“My family, even distant family, tries to come to the games,” Tomlin said. “For the TSU game my granddad will be flying down from Pittsburgh even though he’s almost 90 years old.”
In terms of the game itself, Tomlin is beyond ready.
“Being from Tennessee, I actually know some of the boys from over there, so I’m calling all my friends at TSU,” Tomlin said. “Both sides of my family are coming down, too. It’s not just a big game for the fan base. I’m ready to see all our work pay off. I’m ready to go get that OVC ring.”
No. 62’s Favorites
- Music: I listen to it all: gospel, rap, everything. When it comes time to be doing anything I have to say Yo Gotti.
- TV show: Always gotta catch it, always looking for a new episode of “Family Guy.”
- Movie: It is a little bit funny, but “American Gangsters” is my favorite only because it shows Frank Lucas going from the bottom to the top. I mean, he went about it an illegal way, but he got there.
- Place on campus to study: I don’t think many people know about it, but the math lab that’s in Faculty (Hall) because not only can I print there for free since I’m a math major, but it’s also a quiet place.
- Place to eat in Murray: Nick’s was my favorite place to eat because they had 29 cent wings, but they upset me when they took the 29 cent wings off the menu, so Bad Bob’s and the $10 buffet.
- Sports Teams:
NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers
Soccer: Manchester United
Hockey: Pittsburgh Penguins
Baseball: Either the Padres or the Pirates
Basketball: I’m not a big fan of any team but I am Team Lebron.