Alabama Football: Breaking Down Top 5 Linebackers for 2013
The Alabama Crimson Tide is known for its suffocating defense, which usually sits atop the college football and Southeastern Conference ranks. And at the heart of Alabama's dominating defensive unit lies in the linebackers.
But which linebacker is the best on this talented defense?
The Crimson Tide has seen its fair share of stud 'backers since head coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, from Rolando McClain to Dont'a Hightower. But the linebacking corps for the 2013-14 season is deep and full of experienced players.
The group only lost one player to graduation in Nico Johnson, who was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. Highly-touted recruit Reuben Foster will also join the team in the fall to add even more size and speed to an already-menacing bunch.
Here we break down the top five Alabama linebackers for next season.
5. Denzel Devall
Devall isn't a household name yet, but his play on the field and contributions to Alabama's defense will soon be noticed by a much larger audience.
Playing in every game for the Crimson Tide last year, Devall showed signs of success in his young career.
The rising sophomore's play gained the attention of fellow linebacker C.J. Mosley, who said Devall reminded him of former Alabama star Courtney Upshaw, according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com.
He still has a long way to go before he can accomplish the same feats as Upshaw, but Devall is headed in the right direction. Next year, he could climb up this list a few places.
4. Xzavier Dickson
Dickson teetered between working with the linebackers and defensive ends in the spring, but for now, we'll label him as a linebacker.
A specialist in pass rushing from the "jack" position, Dickson solidified himself as a force on the defensive side of the ball last season. It could be said that he too resembles Upshaw with his style of play from the edge, but that came from no Alabama player's mouth.
Dickson provides the Crimson Tide with a run stopper, as well as someone that can get after the quarterback.
He will be an integral part of defensive coordinator Kirby Smart's game plan in 2013 and could find his breaks on the sideline to be few and far between.
3. Trey DePriest
DePriest saw most of the first-team reps last season over senior Nico Johnson, and he will see no decrease in time on the field in 2013.
The rising junior has asserted himself as a heavy hitter at the middle linebacker position and has paired well beside Mosley in the middle of the field.
At this point in the listing, it comes down to who has had the best career in Tuscaloosa and who will go the highest in the NFL draft. Obviously, there are two players in front of DePriest who are more experienced than him, but he doesn't lack the talent and possesses a very high ceiling.
2. Adrian Hubbard
Hubbard is another edge-rusher who saw plenty of action last season. But unlike Dickson, Hubbard towers over the offensive line as he awaits the snap in a two-point stance.
At 6'6", 252 pounds, Hubbard is a beast of a man in the second level of Alabama's defense.
His play is a bit raw at times, but his athletic ability is undeniable. He is considered to be the ninth-best NFL prospect from the SEC, according to Chris Low of ESPN.com.
Hubbard possesses the skill set to be one of the most elite defenders in all of college football next year, and in the NFL in the near future. The rising junior needs a some polishing, but his ceiling seems limitless.
1. C.J. Mosley
A consensus first-team All-American and Butkus Award finalist, Mosley is the heart and soul of Alabama's defense.
He emerged last season—his junior year—to be a leader on and off the field and will presumably be one of the captains heading into the 2013 season.
Mosley possesses a skill that most of the other Crimson Tide linebackers do not have: the ability to defend the pass. And that is what puts him at the top of this list.
Sure, he is one of the leaders of the team, but his complete skill set for a linebacker is what sets him apart from his teammates and the rest of the players in the country.
There's no question that Mosley is the No. 1 linebacker on Alabama's 2013-14 roster.
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