Interview: TCU DB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson Leaning On Uncle LaDainian Tomlinson For NFL Advice

When the East-West Shrine Bowl roster was first released, TCU’s Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson was one of my top names that caught my eye at the cornerback position. Within his productive collegiate career, Hodges-Tomlinson became a household name, gaining First-Team All-Big 12 recognition on three separate occasions, in addition to being named an AP Second-Team All-American in 2020.

In total, the talented, yet undersized corner finished his career with 125 tackles, four tackles for losses, three forced fumbles, five interceptions, 36 passes defended, and a defensive touchdown. This past season, Hodges-Tomlinson helped TCU reach the National Championship game, the Horned Frogs best season since an undefeated 2010 campaign, winning the Thorpe Award, an award given annually to the nation’s top collegiate defensive back.


In his early years learning the game of football and ultimately choosing to attend TCU, Hodges-Tomlinson relied on the presence of a unique role model, his uncle, NFL Hall of Fame running back, LaDainian Tomlinson.

“He had a big influence on it. Understanding where he, what he had done in the game and football world, his career. He was always someone that I would have any questions I needed to have answered, someone that I would run to for, because he has done everything that I want to do in life. He has just been a great mentor, a great guiding presence for me and people in my family, man. So just what he has done as a whole man, I’m very thankful for it.”

Following in the footsteps of his uncle, a multiple-time rushing leader, NFL MVP, and NFL record holder for touchdowns in a season, Tre’Vius initially began his career at the running back position. By the time he reached college, the multiple-time All-American had fully embraced his transition to the cornerback position, culminating with his dominant 2022 senior seasons, which culminated in a National Championship run and a Thorpe Award trophy.

“Yeah, in my younger years I played running back. Then we both came to agreement that cornerback was a position that I should look forward to, and then it was just something that I wanted to become great at. So I took on the challenge and it has brought me to where I am today, so I’m just happy that I did make that transition.”

​​As for coverages, Hodges-Tomlinson was able to play in multiple different defensive schemes, beginning his career under long-time head coach Gary Patterson before having his best season to date under new head coach Sonny Dykes. His experience playing in a Tampa 2-centric system allowed him to be active around the line of scrimmage, both in defending the run and screen game, an experience that will be worth its weight in gold as he gains increased snaps on the inside at the next level.

“We were in a lot of Tampa. This new defense, it was a lot of Tampa, quarters and true zone coverages, and then sometimes the man.”

In watching Hodges-Tomlinson’s tape, the one trait that stands out above all others is his physicality and ability to make impact plays as a tackler from within the box and in the open field. He cites his past experience playing safety in helping form his unique physicality and quick trigger among his peers in this year’s cornerback draft class. In my four years of evaluating the NFL draft, Hodges-Tomlinson stands alone as the best run support corner that I have evaluated, working with elite physicality, tackling technique, and ability to navigate past blockers when playing in the box.

“Yeah man, in high school I played safety. Running up and making tackles was just a natural feel. For me, it’s something that I want to do. I love to tackle. I love everything about football, so whatever that brings, whatever comes with it, if I do have a tackle on the play, man, it’s no biggie at all, I’m here for it. But yeah, it’s just the mentality of understanding that I have to make this play if it comes my way. So anytime I see a guy with the ball, I’m gonna go tackle him, it’s part of the game and that’s something that I want to do.”

As for players at the next level that he watches and studies, Hodges-Tomlinson singled out Tyrann Mathieu and Mike Hilton, citing that he likes the way that they come up and tackle. While he played almost exclusively as an outside corner at the collegiate level, Hodges-Tomlinson’s measurables, at 5’7 ½” 175 pounds, with 29 ⅜” arms, will likely lead NFL scouts and evaluators to view him as a slot prospect at the next level.

Despite his lack of experience there at the collegiate level, the Thorpe Award winner has a ready-made skillset for the slot position at the NFL level, with the physicality and coverage ability to serve as an every-down Nickel wherever he lands. While I was disappointed to see him opt to sit out of the Shrine Bowl practice week, it’s hard to fault his decision after TCU’s extensive run deep into postseason play, which finished in early December, less than a month before the all-star game. If Pittsburgh ultimately chooses to re-sign Cam Sutton, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson could serve as a nice, mid-round upgrade to a position that has not been properly addressed since Mike Hilton’s departure.


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