Rashaan Evans is an alpha dog now.

The guy who patiently waited his turn for three years on the periphery of a starting role is now squarely in the center of the defense. He’s matured and learned the oft-described intricate defense.

He no longer has to think. He reacts.

Evans is poised for a big season at inside linebacker for the Crimson Tide. He was pressed into a starting role in the postseason when Shaun Dion Hamilton suffered a torn ACL. That experience gave him confidence he’s using now.

His versatility is a plus too. On first and second downs he can stay inside. On third downs he can shift outside and rush the passer.

“I feel like it gives us…some more versatility, being able to come from inside to outside and kind of help the pass rushers out as much as I can and get some pressure on the quarterback,” Evans said. “I think that’s the No. 1 thing. If you can do those things like that you can pretty much stop some pretty good offenses.”

He said he feels home at inside linebacker this year.

The God-given athleticism he possesses makes him a sideline-to-sideline presence in the middle of the Alabama defense. In that way, he’s like Reuben Foster.

Through fall camp, including two scrimmages, Evans has impressed his coaches.

“Rashaan has certainly done a really good job for us,” UA head coach Nick Saban said. “He kind of played defensive end, outside linebacker. That’s kind of what we recruited him as. He’s a really good pass rusher. We converted him to inside backer and he’s made fantastic progress at that.

“Really shown a lot of leadership on the field. Has really good knowledge and experience now relative to what he’s supposed to do, how he’s supposed to do it making calls. I think there’s a lot of guys that look to his leadership to be important in the development of our defense. He’s certainly done a good job of that to this point.”

That alpha dog label doesn’t get tossed around lightly in the No. 1 program in the country. It’s been held by defensive greats in the past, names like Reggie Ragland, Jonathan Allen and more.

Evans is on that list this year.

“Who are the alpha dogs? Shoot, might as well say the whole defense,” Evans said. “We got guys who can play anywhere in the nation. We got great athletes and great leaders. I mean just with that, it lets you know what type of guys we got on our team.”

“Me being an older guy, I feel like my position is to make everyone else better around me. Especially with the freshman. Helping them learn the standard that we have around here, the way we practice, how we carry ourselves and the little things like that. I feel like that’s kind of my role now.”

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.