EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second installment in a nine-part series looking ahead to the start of Alabama football’s fall practice. Today we break down the linebacker position:
The loss of Terrell Lewis (knee injury) during summer is a blow to this group. Injuries made this group find some new contributors last season, and continued development of those players could mean that there’s still depth. Anfernee Jennings played 10 games last year and did a solid job of setting the edge. Christian Miller, a redshirt senior who was injured much of 2017, is also back and looking for a big season. Coach Nick Saban said at SEC Media Days that Miller has spent some time working inside, but the injury to Lewis might change those plans. Former walk-on Jamey Mosley was called on to help last season and held his ground. Chris Allen was pressed into duty as a freshman and might be ready for a bigger role in the rotation. Freshmen like Jarez Parks and Eyabi Anoma could also push the returning players for playing time and make an impact.
The athleticism of Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses should put fear in the heart of opposing offenses. Behind them, though, there are concerns about depth. Keith Holcombe chose to focus on baseball and isn’t expected to play football during his senior year. There’s not much experience to speak of on the roster otherwise. Redshirt junior Josh McMillon seemed to be with the second team in spring, though he played sparingly in 2017. Redshirt freshman Markail Benton was the other second-teamer, and he didn’t play at all. Gordo product Ben Davis is also with this group. One or more of those players will be counted on for meaningful snaps this season. Fall should go a long way in determining how the position separates.
This group has plenty of ability, as evidenced by three players being named to the Butkus Award watch list. The emergence of one or two new contributors could make it the strongest part of the defense. There’s athleticism inside and out, and the injuries from 2017 mean that even some of the younger players in the unit have real game experience. On the other hand, one or two more injuries to this group could force players in roles ahead of schedule.