Somebody on defense has to call out plays, just like the quarterback does on offense.
Normally, at Alabama, those responsibilities fall on the Mike linebacker. Only Mack Wilson left at the end of last season, creating a void on that side of the ball.
The insert: Dylan Moses.
“That’s something me and coach (Nick) Saban spoke about when I first came into the program and when I was recruited,” Moses said. “So to finally be the Mike linebacker, to quarterback the defense, I’m happy and I’m excited.”
This is Moses’ third season with the Crimson Tide.
As a just a freshman, he played in 11 of Alabama’s 14 games, only ending on a short note because he sustained a foot injury during practice for the College Football Playoff semifinal. He came back the following year – last season – and led the team with 86 total tackles of which 45 were solo takedowns and 10 were for a loss. Moses was a finalist for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker.
The entire time Moses had his eyes on the leadership role he now takes over.
“I’ve always been natural at it because, ever since little league and high school, I’ve always played Mike linebacker,” Moses said. “So it just gave me free range to run from sideline to sideline, and pretty much all I have to do is make the calls.
“Playing the position here, all you’re doing is covering a running back when you’re dropping in coverage, if it’s not a zone coverage. For me, there’s less to think about. All I have to do is make the calls and then run wherever I’ve got to run.”
Moses makes it sound so casual and carefree when, really, he has to know Alabama’s defense backward and forward.
Well, Moses said he learned the playbook within 11 months of stepping on campus.
Wilson, who’s getting ready for the 2019 NFL Draft, thinks he left the defense in good hands.
“Dylan is not an outspoken person,” Wilson said. “I feel like he’s going to have to step out of his comfort zone, kind of like what happened with me when it was my time to take on a leadership role. But I’m fully confident in him. I feel like he’s going to do a good job. He knows what it takes to win.”
Saban wouldn’t confirm nor deny whether Moses for sure has the job. But he did say Moses is a very instinctive player, an important characteristic since the Mike linebacker must understand the game from a conceptual standpoint. It’s mental and physical.
“I don’t think he has anything to prove,” Saban said. “It’s just a matter of getting him reps.”
Alabama still has nine spring practices, starting Friday, and two scrimmages before the A-Day Game on April 13.
The 2019 season opener is then Aug. 31 in Atlanta against Duke.
“Every time I step on that field it’s a business-type environment,” Moses said. “I literally flip a switch in my head and leader mode, linebacker mode. I got to do what I go to do.”
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.