EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second installment in a series looking ahead to the start of Alabama football fall practice. Today, we look at the linebacker position.
There is good news and a little bit of bad news for the Crimson Tide at linebacker. The position is in good hands with returning starters Anfernee Jennings and Dylan Moses. Also, Terrell Lewis and Chris Allen are back after missing the 2018 season with injuries.
Eyabi Anoma, an All-SEC Freshman team player, was being counted on as a big contributor this season, but he’s not enrolled for the fall semester. The school offered no other information regarding Anoma’s status with the team.
Jennings and Moses will be the core of a solid linebacking unit. Jennings had 51 tackles, 14 for a loss, and 6.5 sacks last season in the Jack linebacker spot. Moses, the Will linebacker, was a key component to UA’s defense last season and helped bottle up opponents’ run game with a team-leading 86 tackles, 10.5 for a loss, and 3.5 sacks.
There will be a battle for the backup spot to Jennings at the Jack linebacker spot with the departure of Jamey Mosley and the position change of Cameron Latu (tight end). That’s where Allen and Lewis enter the picture. Both should have big roles for the 2019 season.
Sophomore Ale Kaho served as a backup to Moses last season at Will and played in 15 games, primarily on special teams. Sophomore Jaylen Moody also played sparingly last season and was used on special teams.
Senior Joshua McMillon saw action in 10 games last season as a backup to Mack Wilson, now in the NFL, at Mike linebacker. Sophomore Markail Benton saw action in 14 games last season, also as a backup at Mike.
Redshirt junior Ben Davis has not seen much action in his three seasons and did not make the three-deep roster last season. Jarez Parks of Fellsmere, Florida, was a redshirt freshman in 2018 and will be looking to compete for some type of role.
There is a lot talent with the incoming players but also a lot of unknowns. All come in highly touted but most true freshman linebackers in Alabama’s defensive system don’t see the field in a starting role. They will be there to add depth.
Alabama have four freshmen, all four-star recruits, from the 2019 signing class at linebacker, two who played defensive end in high school. They are: Shane Lee of Burtonsville, Maryland; Christian Harris from Baton Rouge, Louisiana; King Mwikuta from West Point, Georgia; Kevin Harris of Loganville, Georgia. All four will get a chance to impress the coaching staff this fall to find a place on the field, either as a backup or on special teams.
Sal Sunseri isn’t exactly a newcomer to Alabama, but he is to the outside linebacker unit. Sunseri was an assistant under Nick Saban with the Crimson Tide from 2009-11. Sunseri, who was a big part of Alabama’s 2009 and 2011 units that ranked near the top of every defensive category, returns to coach the outside linebackers.
Having Lewis and Allen back healthy is a bonus for a team that doesn’t have too much drop-off at linebacker for 2019. Finding players to provide depth is crucial, but with a stockpile of talented athletes that shouldn’t be the big issue. The addition of Sunseri as coach will only help. The development of Moody, Kaho, Parks and Davis is key – they should see more action and have an expanded role.