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Again, Steele made realistic predictions. He did not go overboard but he did not shy away from giving credit.
With Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower making all the plays for the past two years, it became easy for many non-Alabama fans to forget about (or ignore or discredit) the Tide's one-two punch at middle linebacker.
Nico Johnson and C.J. Mosley are that combination. Together, these two were just as important to the team's unbelievable defense in 2011 as Dont'a Hightower was.
Johnson is predicted to be on the third-team All-American defense roster. Mosley is predicted to be on the second-team list.
Johnson defended the run with terrifying efficiency, and Mosley provided the elite pass coverage skills for the Tide's linebacking corps. They swapped at appropriate times.
With Hightower gone, both of these two will have to step up a great deal.
Johnson, a heavy contributor for the past three seasons (including the 2009 championship season) is the most experienced linebacker on the team.
Honestly, I think he may be the most experienced linebacker that Nick Saban has had during his time at the Capstone, though certainly not the most talented.
As for Mosley, he is exactly what you want in a linebacker who can defend the run and the pass, but he's a much better pass defender.
He is a playmaker with a nose for the ball when it's on the ground, but he's a total ball-hawk when it's in the air.
Despite the potential and raw talent of Alabama's linebackers, no one else on the roster deserved preseason All-America recognition just yet.
They'll have to work for it.
After they work for it, they may get real All-America honors after the 2012 season.