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Returning starters: Christian Miller, Anfernee Jennings, Dylan Moses, Mack Wilson
Starters lost: Shaun Dion Hamilton, Terrell Lewis, Rashaan Evans


Last year’s flurry of injuries, which carried over to the summer of 2018 with the loss of Terrell Lewis and Christopher Allen to knee injuries, makes it difficult to identify returning starters. Christian Miller, for instance, started the opener against Florida State, sustained an arm injury and appeared in just four games. Anfernee Jennings was in and out of the starting lineup between injuries, although he managed to record 41 tackles, the most by any returning linebacker. Sophomore Dylan Moses earned a starting role late in the year, only to miss the playoffs with a broken foot.

All that playing time does make it simple to identify the tentative starters for 2018: Jennings and Miller on the outside, Moses and Mack Wilson on the inside. The backups on the inside as the season begins will be Josh McMillon at the Will linebacker and Markail Benton behind Wilson. Jamey Mosley is the only experience backup on the outside, unless the coaching staff shuffles players around.


Jaylen Moody, an under-the-radar signee in the spring, has been impressive on the inside. Ale Kaho, who originally signed with Washington, arrived at Alabama in early August but may need time to acclimate. Ben Davis, the former five-star prospect from Gordo, isn’t new but has yet to make a significant impact. There is a strong buzz about freshman Eyabi Anoma as an outside pass rusher, although he needs to get stronger physically. Jarez Parks, who was able to go through spring practice, is another promising freshman.


In the past two NFL drafts, Alabama has had five linebackers selected. The Crimson Tide can replenish a position quickly but that’s a big reason for the current depth issues. Another factor is the injuries, which reduce Nick Saban’s options in flexing certain linebackers from inside to outside.


The first unit can be as good as any in college football but the backups need to develop quickly.


Alabama has had five linebackers drafted into the National Football League since 2010. The Crimson Tide has also had four second-round picks at the position in that span and three more in later rounds for a total of 11 linebackers selected in the past nine draft.


“We need Mack (Wilson) to really be the guy on defense for us this year when it comes to the leadership and how he affects other people. (He’s) very athletic, a very good player. I don’t have any questions about his ability to do what he needs to do at his position to be successful but how he affects other people is going to be critical as well.”
– Alabama coach Nick Saban.

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