Heated battle for Alabama football's second inside linebacker spot

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

TUSCALOOSA - The reinforcements have arrived.

Alabama’s defensive struggles from 2019 were partially attributed to starting a pair of freshmen at inside linebacker, forced to learn on the job in the defense’s most demanding position. UA now has its choice of veteran players, to the point that playing time is far from guaranteed for everyone other than Dylan Moses.

Players: Senior Dylan Moses, sixth-year senior Joshua McMillon, sophomore Shane Lee, sophomore Christian Harris, junior Ale Kaho, freshman Demouy Kennedy, freshman Jackson Bratton.

2019 stat: Last year broke a streak of three straight seasons with a Alabama inside linebacker tallying at least 10 tackles for a loss. Harris led the position group with 7 1/2.

Storyline: Moses is a sure starter, after racking up 10 tackles for a loss in 2018. Picking his partner could prove to be a tricky proposition.

Alabama defensive coordinator Pete Golding talks to junior middle linebacker Dylan Moses (32) during a recent preseason practice Aug. 15, 2019 at the team's practice facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Photo by Kent Gidley/Alabama athletics)

McMillon had the edge on experience last preseason, before his knee injury, but both Harris and Lee now have that experienced. Lee would have to move from the mike linebacker position to the will to play alongside Moses, whereas Harris already has experience there.

Harris’ athletic abilities make him an attractive prospect for the position, and if he has developed mentally to the point that he can make up for McMillon’s experience, he could be the other starter.

Kaho came to UA as a five-star transfer and has made sizable impact on special teams, but little to none on defense. Kennedy and Bratton both enter the program as four-star prospects, top five prospects from the state of Alabama and top 10 inside linebackers in the nation.

Alabama’s inside linebackers have a lot to do to improve upon last year’s defense: communication issues to fix, negative plays to create, an inexperienced secondary to lead. Picking the right person for that job will be critical to Alabama’s defensive success.