Alabama football linebacker Dylan Moses details playing through pain in 2020

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

Dylan Moses was a third-team Associated Press All-American and a first-team All-SEC selection by the coaches this season, and it still wasn’t enough to satisfy the expectations built up by his previous performance and his absence from the 2019 season.

In a recent Instagram post, the public learned why. Moses detailed pain in his surgically-repaired knee and the toll of losing his grandmother to COVID-19, all while trying to direct Alabama’s defense as its middle linebacker. The pain will likely still be there when UA plays Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday.

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“I never had to go through a whole season feeling like that. It was new for me,” Moses said in a playoff media availability. “But at the same time, it wasn't nothing I couldn't play through.”

Moses said he felt completely healthy when the season began against Missouri, but the knee was in “constant pain” after that.

Jan 1, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA;  Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses (32) makes an open field tackle on Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams (23) Friday, Jan. 1, 2021 in the College Football Playoff Semifinal hosted by the Rose Bowl in AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

In his Instagram post, Moses acknowledged the “major toll” 2020 took on him to the point where “it’s been times where I wanted to quit and times I wanted to walk away from my dreams.”

Moses had a support system in UA’s football building. Tight end Miller Forristall, who had his own ACL injury earlier in his career, said it took him two years to feel like himself again. He had occasional conversations with Moses about it.

“Everyone you think comes back and you hear all this, ‘Oh, you're going to come back bigger, faster, stronger immediately,’ and you just don't all the time,” Forristall said. “Sometimes you don't always feel like you used to, but you can still play better and you can still be better than the player you were.”

Moses was far from useless, even with the obstacles: his 74 tackles led the team and his 6 1/2 tackles for loss are fifth. He may not be operating at the physically elite level that he was in pre-injury 2018, when he had 10 tackles for loss as a sophomore, but he can impact UA’s defense in other ways.

“When he was in this building every day he locked in, had the ability to focus. I think that shows his maturity and him growing up and him being a senior this year and coming back for that fourth year,” defensive coordinator Pete Golding said. “It never became a distraction to where you were ever like on the field, what's wrong with Dylan? It wasn't that by any means.”

Golding’s description of Moses’ daily approach to the 2020 season hit a similar message to Moses’ explanation of the reason for the Instagram post.

“That post that I made, it wasn't for me or for anybody to feel like any sympathy towards me,” Moses said. “It was really for those people out there going through the same thing that I was going through and thinking about giving up and just showing that we're human. Like everyone who plays football or a professional sport or collegiate sport, we're all human. We go through the same things.”

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson