West Monroe head coach Jerry Arledge can barely hold back his excitement when he talks about the Rebels defensive line for the 2018 football season, and that’s not just because he’s spent a majority of his coaching career on the defensive side of the ball.
There are several reasons as to why Arledge is excited about West Monroe in the trenches, but perhaps the biggest reason of them all resides at defensive tackle.
“Dalvin (Hutchinson) is going to be a heck of a player for us on that defensive line,” Arledge said.
In big games last year, Hutchinson showed up and dominated. In a 14-13 Ouachita Parish slugfest, Hutchinson recorded 11 tackles, and in a 28-14 Ruston victory, Hutchinson led the way with 14 tackles. This is a defensive tackle, mind you.
It’s numbers like that, and the explosive nature of Hutchinson that draws comparisons to former LSU great Glen Dorsey.
“That just goes to all of the hard work I put in,” Hutchinson said. “I don’t remember putting up numbers like that when I was at Wossman. But it’s hard work. I knew what I was capable of. I put it all in God’s hands.”
Before last season, Hutchinson was at Wossman High School, where he gained two offers. The University of Texas-San Antonio and Nicholls State University offered him, but when he left to play for West Monroe as a junior, a silence came over Hutchinson’s recruitment. Then Hutchinson made an impact at defensive tackle in the 5A ranks, and that door opened back up.
“After the season, ULL offered me, and they all started coming after that,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson now holds 12 offers from universities like SMU, Memphis and ULM. He’s also made a splash on a national recruiting scene by finishing in the Top 5 at Nike’s Regional Opening in Texas.
But still, Hutchinson is somewhat overlooked. A large reason for that is his size. On a good day, Hutchinson is a 5’11” defensive tackle, which puts him at a disadvantage as far as gaining momentum in notching college offers. But it obviously hasn’t hindered his performance.
“When I made the Top 5 at the Nike camp, I started to realize that size doesn’t mean anything,” Hutchinson said. “I can outwork you, and that gives me another reason to work harder.”
The undersized tackle has a strong combination of using his hands and jump off the ball that’s made him a terror to block in the high school ranks. He’s also found ways to use his smaller stature as a way to gain leverage against bigger linemen. He feels that will translate at the next level after his final season with the Rebels.
But he’s not taking his final year with the Rebels for granted. How could he after a sudden 29-27 loss to Zachary in the semifinals derailed last year’s championship run. The work put in this season has already seen the 313-pound defensive lineman trim 12 pounds since last season.
Nothing is taken for granted this season, and if that means the often-quiet defensive lineman has to step out of his comfort zone, so be it.
“I’ve always been the underclassmen playing varsity, so I never had to say much,” Hutchinson said. “This year, I’m a senior. It’s come so quick. But I’m working on setting the example for my teammates. It’s going to be a good year.”