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The first-team All-American led last year's national championship team in tackles -- and he's back to answer any questions about his ability in the Crimson Tide defense.
Courtesy of Alabama
Alabama senior C.J. Mosley is excited about his expanded role in the Crimson Tide defense this year.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Last year, C.J. Mosley led Alabama in tackles and earned first-team All-America honors. And he wasn’t even an every-down player.
Imagine what he might do this year now that he has been upgraded to full-time status.
Mosley was a finalist last year for the Butkus Award, which goes to the country’s best linebacker. He recorded 107 tackles, the most by an Alabama player since 2003, and helped the Crimson Tide win its second straight national championship.
He usually was on the field only in passing situations, playing linebacker when Alabama used its nickel (five defensive backs) or dime (six defensive backs) scheme. He did not become an every-down player until the win over Notre Dame in the national championship game, when he recorded eight tackles and was named the game’s defensive MVP.
Mosley is excited about his expanded role as a senior this year, when he will be on the field in all formations.
“I get to showcase my full talents and answer the questions of some of the critics that said I wasn’t as good of a run stopper as I was a pass defender,” said Mosley, whose team will face Virginia Tech on Saturday at the Georgia Dome. “Every day at practice … I have it in the back of my head about being a run-stopping linebacker.”
Mosley started 11 of Alabama’s 14 games last year, when he recorded the fourth-most tackles by an Alabama player in the last 25 years. His 107 tackles were 48 more than Alabama’s second-leading tackler last season. He also had four sacks and two interceptions. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown — the third time he has done so in his career, tying an Alabama record.
He helped Alabama lead the country in scoring defense (10.9 ppg) and total defense (250 ypg).
If he had turned pro after last season, he likely would have been chosen in the first few rounds of the NFL draft.
But Mosley said he did not feel ready. He also wanted to get his degree. Mosley, a health studies major, plans to graduate in December.
Mosley plays one of the two inside linebacker positions (weakside linebacker) in Alabama’s 3-4 defense. He had to share his job the past two years with Nico Johnson, who was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs last April.
Johnson’s departure means more snaps for Mosley — and the chance to show he can be an every-down player.
“That’s one of the main reasons, besides getting my degree, I came back,” said Mosley, a native of Theodore, Ala. “I wanted to prove to myself and prove to other people that said I wasn’t a run-stop linebacker or that I wasn’t an every-down linebacker.”
The 6-foot-2, 232-pound Mosley is rated the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker by the Lindy’s Sports college football preview magazine.
He is expected to be taken in the first round of next year’s NFL Draft. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper ranks him the nation’s No. 17 draft prospect on his “big board,” while fellow analyst Todd McShay ranks him No. 12.
“It’s a beautiful thing to think about,” Mosley said of the NFL. “But right now I’m just focusing on the season and focusing on getting my degree.”
He played hurt last season. X-rays revealed last December that he had a torn labrum in his right shoulder, but he did not have surgery until a few days after the national championship game. Mosley said his shoulder is now 100 percent.
Alabama is trying to become the first team in the Bowl Championship Series era to win three straight national titles. But the team does not feel pressure to do so, said Mosley.
“We have to make sure that we buy into our system and the way we do things at Alabama and not worry about the championship,” said Mosley, one of seven returning starters on defense.
Mosley said his team is excited about Saturday’s opener, even though the Hokies are unranked.
“We treat every game like it’s a championship game,” he said.
Most football fans are more excited about Alabama’s second game of the season than the opener. Texas A&M, which beat Alabama last year, hosts the Crimson Tide on Sept. 14.
But Mosley said Alabama is not looking past Virginia Tech.
“We don’t look past any opponent because they’re not going to look past us,” he said with a laugh.
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