University of Iowa defensive end Dominic Alvis treats football like it is a full-time job. He has invested countless hours in his trade; whether on the field, in the weight room or watching film. That workman-like attitude made it much harder to accept watching from the sidelines while rehabbing a knee injury.
Alvis earned a promotion at his job last season, starting eight of the first nine games before tearing an ACL in Iowa's win over Michigan. The job he loved wasn't going to be an option for a few months.
"You put in so much time and you are dedicated to the sport," Alvis said. "All of a sudden, it's taken away from you. It's like you are out of your job. You get the feeling like 'what do I do now?'"
The Logan, Iowa, native said that empty feeling lasted for a while, but he decided to work even harder to ensure he was back in the Iowa football workforce when the 2012 season began.
Rehab wasn't as enjoyable as playing, but Alvis wanted to guarantee he would be 100 percent for fall camp.
"(Strength and conditioning) coach Doyle really kicked my butt," Alvis said. "I was running sprints, and I would have rather been playing. That was the worst feeling in the world. I'm really thankful to have coach Doyle and his workouts are tough. He's definitely a good guy to have on your side."
After months of intense workouts to get back on the field, Alvis received the precious "green light" after spring practice concluded, meaning he could fully participate in any and all workouts. He can't wait to get back to work in August.
"I finally get to put on the pads and go to work," Alvis said. "We lost some great leaders in Broderick (Binns) and Mike (Daniels). I'm taking it upon myself to lead as they did."
Alvis, a junior, only has eight games of starting experience under his belt, but he is considered a veteran among a young group of defensive lineman. He's excited to pass on his knowledge to the younger players and wants to lead by example.
"I learned that a lot of the game is mental," Alvis said about his starting experience last season. "I would say it's 90 percent mental. Just having the right mindset during the week and knowing what to do and how to prepare so you are ready to compete on Saturday."
Alvis played alongside Daniels and Binns last season, but also drew leadership skills from another former Hawkeye who is now making a name for himself on Sundays in the NFL.
"The guy who I learned from, and still respect today, is Karl Klug," Alvis said. "There wasn't a guy that worked harder. He passed that on to me and now it's my responsibility to pass that along to the other guys."
Alvis can relate to the younger defensive linemen because he was in their shoes last season. He had minimal game experience but had the hunger to compete. Alvis sees the same attitude in his younger teammates.
"The younger guys look good," Alvis said. "They are athletic and it's a good crop of guys. We will have some young guns, but they will be good and ready."
Now that Alvis is back working the job he loves, he can focus on helping the underclassmen through their on-the-job training.
When the young guys of this year turn into the veterans of the squad down the road, they will most likely mention how Dominic Alvis taught them how to work. If his work ethic toward rehab is any indication, Iowa's young defensive line will be the hardest working group in the country.
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