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LaDainian Tomlinson (born June 23, 1979 in Rosebud, Texas) is an American football player who currently plays running back for the San Diego Chargers of the NFL. Tomlinson is a Texas Christian University alumnus. He is often to referred to as "LT" and sometimes as "Lightning And Thunder" and "LT2" (Many fans and media associate the "LT" designation with Hall of Fame New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who was the first to use this nickname).
By his third birthday,Tomlinson, like his father, was an avid follower of the Dallas Cowboys. He got his first taste of football playing Pop Warner football as a youngster. Football was such an important part of LaDainian’s life that he slept with a pigskin every night. At age 13, Tomlinson's mother paid $750 for LaDainian to participate in the Emmitt Smith Football Camp being held at The University of North Texas. LaDainian mentions taking handoffs from Emmitt himself. The experience would influence LaDainian's dreams of becoming a future NFL player.
Tomlinson attended University High School in Waco, Texas, and starred at halfback as a sophomore and at fullback as a junior, and in his first game as a starter he scored five touchdowns. However, he did not get to play tailback until his senior year. As a fullback, he rushed for 2,554 yards and 39 touchdowns. Because of Tomlinson's small size (195 pounds) and lack of experience, few college football recruiters showed interest in him. He chose to attend Texas Christian University because the school was near his hometown and because the football team's head coach, Pat Sullivan, treated Tomlinson with great deference.
Tomlinson was selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft in 2001 with the 5th overall pick. The Chargers had the 1st pick in the draft that year but anticipated that they would be unable to sign Michael Vick, who was perceived as the best player in the year's draft class. Therefore, they traded their number one pick to the Atlanta Falcons, for which they received the number five pick and other considerations. In this way, Tomlinson and Vick are forever linked as having been "traded" for each other, although the transaction was actually the result of traded draft picks and contract negotiations.
Tomlinson immediately became the starting running back with the Chargers, and has started every game since for the Chargers at that position. He has achieved immediate success in the NFL, rushing for over 1,200 yards in each of his five seasons. Other important career milestones include reaching his 50th touchdown in only his 4th season (60th game), receiving 100 passes and rushing for 1,000 yards in the same season (the first time this feat had ever been accomplished), setting the NFL record for most straight games with a rushing touchdown (18) and election to the Pro Bowl team in 2003 and 2005. Tomlinson's rushing touchdown streak also ties Lenny Moore's all-time record for consecutive games scoring a TD (18). Unfortunately, that streak would be snapped in the very next game in a 20-17 loss which he had one of the worst games of his career rushing for 7 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles, leaving him tied with Lenny Moore. He is widely recognized as one of the top running backs, if not the top, in the game today
On October 16, 2005, in the Chargers' victory over the Oakland Raiders, LaDainian Tomlinson became the 7th player in NFL history to run, catch and throw for a touchdown in the same game. Later that season, he was voted into the Pro Bowl. He also broke a rib near the end of the 2005 season and was considerably less effective. He did continue to play at a reasonably high level, however, and finished the season with 1,462 rushing yards, 370 receiving yards, and a career high 23 touchdowns running for 18 catching 2 and throwing 3 TDs also .
Tomlinson is hard to place in any category because of his versatility and speed. He has good hands, can slam into a defensive line for good yardage or take it to the outside and use his speed and arsenal of moves to outrun the secondary. As a smart runner, he knows when to use his moves and when to put it into fifth gear and take off. When in the red zone with one or two yards to go it has become a usual move of his to jump over both the offensive and defensive line to score the touchdown. He has used this method in college, highschool and now it has transferred to the NFL. He is assisted by fullback Lorenzo Neal, who creates big holes for Tomlinson to run through.
On the NFL Today show on CBS, commentator and former Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe said that the Chargers should put a carry count on Tomlinson like baseball managers do on pitchers. The reason for that is he could burn out early, before his time. Tomlinson has never carried the ball less than 312 times in a season. The same things happened to Shannon's former teammate. Terrell Davis and former Houston Oilers and New Orleans running back Earl Campbell.
In college, Tomlinson rushed for a career high and season high 2,158 yards in the year 2000. That puts him number four on the list for most rushing yards in a single season in college with the record holder being the great Barry Sanders with a mind blowing 2,628 yards in 1988. Has been called one of the best running backs of all-time by his coach Marty Schottenhimer after winning the game in overtime versus the Washington Redskins' at FedEx Field where he rushing for over 100 of his 184 yards in the second half including a 43 yard game-winning touchdown run. LaDainian is the San Diego Chargers' All-Time leading rusher. "LT" has also served as a protypical mentor and advisor to USC running back Reggie Bush who also wore number 5 in college. Tomlinson has an NFL record 80 touchdowns in his first five seasons. Held to below 4 yards a carry in 60% of his games.
<stats> Player=Ladainian Tomlinson Sport=NFL </stats>