Running free down the sideline wasn’t how Brody Dalton envisioned his role as a UAB tight end.

There he was, though, catching a football in the season opener against Alabama A&M and sprinting down the sideline. An early highlight in his college career quickly turned into a different kind of lesson.

“I caught that second pass in the game and ran up the sideline,” said Dalton, who had two catches for 18 yards against Alabama A&M. “I kind of stiff-armed him but he rolled up on my ankle. That was frustrating. I had been excited all summer because I knew I’d get my chance. When I got my ankle injury, it kind of set me back.”

The good news is that the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Dalton is back in the lineup for the Blazers, who will play a critical Conference USA matchup on Friday at Western Kentucky. And this time he’s doing what he knows how to do best.

“A lot of people don’t like to block, but I’m used to it. It doesn’t bother me,” Dalton said.

Blocking is a habit at Fyffe High, where run blocking and winning are the ways of life. The Red Devils lost a football game during his freshman season. In his final three high school seasons, Fyffe won 45 consecutive games and three state championships. The Red Devils outscored opponents by a combined score of 1,931-276 in those three seasons.

“It was pretty cool,” Dalton said. “I’ve never really known losing, we only lost one game when I was there. You just felt like you had to win.”

He chose UAB over a handful of offers.  

“We knew he had the potential to come in and be an all-conference tight end caliber player,” said UAB head coach Bryant Vincent, who was the program’s offensive coordinator at the time.  

They also knew it could take some seasoning, which was fine with Hayden Pittman and Gerrit Prince getting the bulk of the tight end reps and some quality depth available if needed. Dalton said his first college season was a learning experience.

“It was more with the learning the plays, just getting to know the offense,” Dalton outlined. “I didn’t play receiver much (at Fyffe), I was mainly a blocker. We just ran it up the middle all the time. You got to do both (at UAB), you got to run routes and block.”

He entered this season with thoughts of getting into the rotation. He was nicked up during camp and then fell back because of the opening-game injury. This past Saturday, in a win over Charlotte, he got his first college start and had one of the biggest blocks of the game, freeing Dylan Hopkins for a game-sealing 61-yard touchdown run.

“I think Brody is continuing to develop,” Vincent said. “You saw Brody, really the last two games, start to come out of his shell and get comfortable. Experience is something that you can’t buy. The more experience Brody gets, I think the more comfortable he’s going to continue to be. I think his ceiling is extremely high. Saturday, he had some really key blocks. He really expanded the hole for Dylan and just created a great lane. As the season goes, I think you’re going to see more and more of Brody Dalton.”

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