Alabama Football: Who Will Be the X-Factor on the Tide's 2013 Defense?

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 10:  Linebacker C.J. Mosley #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

The Alabama defense has been the most consistent unit in the country over the past half-decade. Nick Saban has built his dynasty around tough defense, and 2013 will be no different.

Over the past few seasons, linebacker C.J. Mosley has become the leader for the defense. He finished the 2012 season as a first-team All-American selection, and as a finalist for the Butkus Award (Alabama Athletics). This season he will be the key to Alabama’s defensive success.

Mosley has been a starter for the Alabama defense since the 2011 season, but has been a contributor for the team since his true freshman season in 2010. His freshman year he totaled 67 tackles and earned freshman All-American honors (Alabama Athletics) for his play.

In 2011, he played in 11 games and was able to earn six starts, finishing his sophomore season with 37 total tackles and two sacks.

Last year Mosley totaled 107 stops, eight tackles for loss and four sacks. He also added two interceptions and a defensive touchdown to his stat sheet.

As a rising senior, Mosley is one of the most experienced starters on the Alabama roster for 2013. He has played against some of the most prolific offenses in recent college football history and has been an All-Star in every contest.

When Nick Saban searches for leaders he looks for hard workers and players that attack with reckless-abandon. Mosley is that player.

After his freshman season, Saban had this to say about the young linebacker (

It’s very challenging—especially with all the multiples that we see—and it seems like it’s getting worse every year in terms of what the offense presents to the defense, in terms of what different things, formations and adjustments … to have a freshman who doesn’t have a whole bunch of resource of information to go on to be in a position where he’s having to make all these adaptations.

That’s our challenge with CJ He’s a very bright guy. He’s done a good job, and we just have to continue his development.

Saban was right about Mosley from day one, and this staff did continue his development after that impressive freshman campaign. He is now among the best at his position in the country.

Without Mosley, this defense would take a leap back in production.

The Crimson Tide have a lot of changes brewing on defense, but the linebackers are the one group that returns every starter from a year ago, and that experience will be needed as the Tide bring along the talented replacements at key positions.

C.J. Mosley will be the leader for the group and help make this defense a national title worthy squad in 2013.