TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Arguably the biggest loss for Alabama this year, at least on defense, is the departure of senior linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Mosley was a rock for Alabama in 2013 and really for all four years he was in Tuscaloosa. He anchored a defense that played a major part in winning two BCS National Championships during his Tide career.
He also provided invaluable intangibles and leadership. He made the defensive calls and checks in 2013 and was the understudy to Nico Johnson and Dont’a Hightower before him. His senior year, he stepped up as a leader on a team that needed one. After an uninspiring win against Colorado State early in the year, he addressed the team himself, preaching the message of buying in and doing your job.
“That’s what leadership is,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said the following week.
Needless to say, the Crimson Tide have a big void to fill in the offseason.
Nevertheless, like at any position, Alabama certainly has the talent to do the job. Here are three players who could replace Mosley at middle linebacker in Alabama’s defense.
It would appear to be now or never for Reggie Ragland.
Ragland came out of Bob Jones High School in Madison, Ala., with a lot of hype as a 4-star prospect. He was rated the No. 1 inside linebacker recruit at the time and the No. 4 player in the state of Alabama.
He’s bided his time, playing mostly on special teams and in mop-up duty, his first two years of school. Last season, he recorded 17 tackles and even got in games where Saban was using a deep rotation of linebackers, too.
If you’re going purely by seniority, Ragland is your guy.
He’s shown that he has the talent. And at 6’2”, 259 pounds, he has the size to compete in the SEC. Now it’s time to put it all together, and he will likely have the first crack at the starting job.
Anyone who follows recruiting remembers the Reuben Foster saga.
First he committed to Alabama, then flipped to Auburn, then flipped back to Alabama. The Auburn (Ala.) High School product was a source of headaches for many in the state before ultimately picking the Tide.
But there’s a reason he was so sought-after and his recruitment was so closely followed.
Foster was a 5-star prospect, the No. 1 inside linebacker, the No. 1 player in the state of Alabama and the No. 6 prospect overall in the country. He was as can’t-miss as they come in the recruiting world.
And he saw his fair share of playing time in 2013 as a reserve, notching 12 tackles, one for a loss, in mop-up duty.
For Foster, if he can show that he has the mental capacity needed to grasp Alabama’s complex defense, he could be the next star-in-the-making for Alabama at middle linebacker.
Anderson fits in the Reggie Ragland category of highly touted prospect who has waited his turn and is ready to seize his moment.
Who will replace C.J. Mosley in 2014?
Anderson was a 4-star prospect and the No. 6 outside linebacker in the class of 2012, where Ragland was the top middle linebacker. Since getting to UA, though, he has worked at both inside and outside positions as the defensive staff tries to figure out where he best fits in the defense.
The major difference between him and Ragland is that Anderson redshirted his first year on campus and therefore has three years of eligibility left instead of two.
At 6’2”, 225 pounds, he has similar size, and in 2013, he recorded five tackles with 1.5 sacks.
Anderson has also had disciplinary issues, as he was sent home from the 2012 BCS National Championship Game for a violation of team rules.
All recruiting information and rankings courtesy of 247Sports.