ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Laken Tomlinson, the Detroit Lions’ first-round draft pick Thursday night, is an interesting individual with a lot of layers. He spoke to the media in person in Michigan for the first time Friday afternoon. Here are some small, interesting nuggets about him.
1. Tomlinson was eager to say how much he plays video games – including his particular go-to game, "Street Fighter." He’s joining a lot of gamers in the Lions' locker room, but for Tomlinson the games have a secondary purpose. “I have good finger dexterity,” Tomlinson said. He’s hoping that helps on the football field along with keeping his hands sharp for his post-football career in medicine. When he was told about the rest of the Lions particularly enjoying "FIFA" and "Call of Duty," he got excited. “Really? Oh really,” Tomlinson said. “Well, I like 'FIFA,' too, so we’ll have some good battles there, I presume.”
2. Tomlinson is a proud Duke graduate and, as such, has a massive love of Duke basketball. While he was never an official member of the Cameron Crazies or camped out in Krzyzewskiville, he loved walking through on his way to the football facility to see the students camped out. This came up when he was asked about a potential rivalry with Detroit’s 2014 first-round pick, North Carolina’s Eric Ebron. “Oh man,” Tomlinson said. “We should talk about that another time. We’ll wait to see how that comes out.”
3. Among current Lions, Tomlinson said he already met and spoke with guard Larry Warford, whom he has tried to pattern his game after. He also spoke briefly with Manny Ramirez, the offensive lineman who was acquired Thursday night in Detroit’s trade-down to eventually draft Ramirez. He said the man he’ll be protecting, quarterback Matthew Stafford, tried to reach out to him, but Tomlinson had not connected with him yet.
4. Tomlinson came to the United States from Jamaica when he was 11 years old as his grandfather, Ivan Wilson, tried to bring his children over one by one. So Audrey Wilson, who worked at the Beaches resort and Sandals resort when they lived in Jamaica, and her children came over and moved to the Rogers Park section of Chicago. They have lived there since. In Chicago, Tomlinson tested well enough to place into Lane Technical High School. To get there, he had to walk to the red line on the CTA, travel to the Addison stop about 10 stops and then take the Addison bus about 15 stops to Lane Tech.
He is planning to represent Jamaica well, even though he hasn’t been back since his grandfather’s funeral in 2008. His father still lives in Jamaica.
“I think I will be representing Jamaica a lot,” Tomlinson said. “This entire process not only affects me but my family, people from Chicago, people from my school, but my people in Jamaica, too.”
5. Between his double major and football, Tomlinson didn’t have much time for hobbies at Duke. He did buy two golden retrievers, though. He named them Douglas and Daisy. While that might sound weird, the names have purpose.
“They are adorable. I love them,” Tomlinson said. “Have you seen the movie ‘Up?’ Douglas is the dog. We named our first dog Doug. And then Daisy, Daisy Duke, for Duke.”