IOWA CITY — Dominic Alvis didn't have to audition for his first prominent role in Iowa City this summer; it was totally scripted.
Alvis, a red-shirt sophomore defensive lineman, was cast as a henchman alongside offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan in the Iowa City-based movie "The Wedge," which is about a pizza delivery boy getting caught up in an Fourth of July casino heist. The movie, which was written and directed by 2010 Iowa graduate Joe Clarke, is tentatively slated to open in November.
"Nolan asked me, 'Hey do you want to be in a movie?' And I was like, 'Yeah, sure,'" Alvis said. "I show up thinking it’s going to be a guy with a camcorder. I go into this room at Hotel Vetro, and it’s the whole thing. I had to go into makeup, wardrobe on. I was like, 'What’s going on?' I had five lines, and I’m pretty sure I messed them up."
Alvis' humility and a sense of humor transferred over to the movie, according to Mike Schminke, the movie's lead character.
"Every time he said a line, they were hilarious," said Schminke, who plays the pizza boy.
Even if the movie is a hit, Alvis likely won't become a Hollywood household name. It's not in his nature. But he's hoping to establish himself as a premier defensive lineman at Iowa, a role as non-scripted as they come.
Alvis, a Logan-Magnolia graduate, was a running back in high school and earned an ultra-late scholarship in the spring of 2009. He arrived as a defensive lineman at Iowa that fall with a 6-foot-4 frame but weighing only 215 pounds. He immediately was red-shirted and sent to football strength coach Chris Doyle to bulk up. After two seasons and three summers, Alvis now weighs about 260 pounds and has only enhanced his sculpted physique.
"If you’ve seen the guys who have been most successful here at putting on weight and being successful on the field, they’ve gained about a pound a month. If you look at Dominic Alvis’ progress, he’d fall in line with that," Doyle said. "You just have to be patient.
"Dominic’s been here a while now, and he’s not young. He’s been here for a few years. It’s taken time, and we’ve been patient with him. He’s work hard, and it’s getting to the time where we see the fruits of the labor."
Alvis changed his eating habits, and Doyle helped him build mass in his lower body. Alvis has gained about 45 pounds through the regimen.
"I think he put himself in great position in the offseason," Iowa defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski said. "He had a real good spring, and it looks like he had a great summer. He looks like a different kid. Even when you talk to him, he talks like a different kid. He’s really grown up and matured. He’ a great athlete, sometimes great athletes can make you look pretty dang good."
Alvis shuffled between defensive end and defensive tackle this spring. He debuted as a first-team defensive tackle with Mike Daniels on the fall depth chart. Alvis is undersized for a position that takes on 300-pound centers and guards, but has enough technique and leverage where his weight won't be a problem, Kaczenski said.
Alvis might have made an even bigger impression on defensive coordinator Norm Parker. Alvis' quick burst off the ball and skill set has Parker comparing him to former all-Big Ten defensive tackles Mitch King and Karl Klug.
"A long time ago we had King, and when Klug was young I said, 'Here’s another Mitch King,'" Parker said. "Now, like an idiot, I’ll go out on the limb and say Dominic Alvis is sort of a Klug-King kind of guy."
Alvis' production has yet to warrant such comparisons. He played in only three games last year and was injured for the rest. He netted one sack against Iowa State and totaled two tackles last year.
But Alvis' motor is where the comparisons to King and Klug — both NFL players — are appropriate. He's amped like King where Kaczenski has to rein him in. Alvis is persistent on the field like Klug. He never quits, like both players.
"With a guy like Dom, guys with those motors sometimes you’ve got to say, 'Hey ease off those throttles a bit,' and kind of pat them on the tail," Kaczenski said. "You’re going to be just fine and take a deep breath."Alvis has been banged up in camp and missed some time, but he's still set for a potential breakout year. Iowa fans hope Alvis' big break comes each Saturday on the silver screen, not just on the big screen.