Each week, Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue analyzes a different prospect based on in-person evaluation and intensive film study. Here's our latest scouting report of a promising young athlete and how he projects as a college player.
Dylan Moses was perhaps the most well-known 15-year-old football player in history. He assembled a collection of scholarship offers from powerhouse football programs and adorned the cover of ESPN The Magazine before his freshman season at the University Laboratory School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The nearby LSU Tigers initially landed his verbal commitment in Sept. 2013, and that pact lasted nearly two years until Moses reopened his recruitment process last summer. While navigating through dozens of collegiate options, he underwent a change prior to his senior season by joining the star-studded roster at IMG Academy (Florida).
Moses, rated No. 1 among linebackers and No. 6 overall in Scout.com rankings, made major headlines in October, announcing plans to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide. The departure of Tigers head coach Les Miles—who established a strong rapport with this coveted recruit during recent years—seemed to further firm his commitment to the country's top-ranked team.
He capped off a prolific prep career with Butkus Award honors Dec. 5, recognizing him as the premier linebacker in high school football. Moses collected 147 tackles and two sacks in 11 games as a senior, according to Hank South of 247Sports.
Earlier that day, Moses received a visit from Alabama head coach Nick Saban, tweeting he "can't wait" to enroll early in Tuscaloosa. Fittingly, Crimson Tide standout Reuben Foster received Butkus Award accolades at the college level just one day prior.
Immense expectations have always accompanied Moses, and they're likely to increase when he enters an Alabama defense that routinely produces top-tier NFL draft prospects. Our latest B/R Recruiting Breakdown places a spotlight on this celebrated defender.
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High School: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)
Size: 6'2 ½", 235 lbs
Recruitment Status: Committed to Alabama on Oct. 2, 2016
- Extremely early attention from national media outlets and collegiate coaching staffs never seemed to faze Moses. He didn't take things for granted as an underclassman and maintained diligent work through this autumn.
- Has a strong grasp of the hype that surrounds him entering each game and camp setting, and he handles this pressure well. Moses doesn't show signs of mental fatigue or inflated ego despite the constant audience.
- Possesses drive to be the best. When replaced by California running back Najee Harris atop the national rankings this year, he told B/R's Damon Sayles: "My philosophy is easy: I want to make sure I do what I have to do, stay focused and keep working hard."
- IMG Academy head coach Kevin Wright projects Moses to provide a constant presence within his collegiate defensive unit, telling B/R's Damon Sayles, "I think he can be an every-down guy who's not a liability in coverage."
- Registered the top linebacker score (132.48) during Nike Football Ratings national finals this summer at The Opening. Performance featured a 4.56-second 40-yard dash, 4.09-second agility shuttle, 39-foot power ball toss and 37.1-inch vertical leap.
- Moses was the first freshman ever to earn an Under Armour All-America Game invitation after securing 176 tackles and six forced fumbles during the 2013 season.
- Thrived at running back when provided reps out of the offensive backfield; set a University Lab School record by averaging 16.5 yards per carry in 2013, per Gerry Hamilton of ESPN.
- Exhibits textbook fundamentals in wrapping up opponents. As sure a one-on-one tackler you'll find in high school.
- Impressive football IQ lends itself to anticipation, particularly against rushing efforts. Sniffs out plays with regularity and shuts things down before they can develop.
- Consistently reads quarterbacks' eyes, thwarting efforts to locate clear passing windows across the middle. Long and athletic enough to repeatedly win battles with running backs and tight ends in downfield coverage.
- A finisher at the point of attack, establishing ideal center of gravity and driving through ball-carriers to prevent extra yardage.
- Versatile enough to vie for immediate consideration inside and outside within a linebacker corps.
- Sideline-to-sideline aggressiveness and knowledge of the game make him a strong candidate to orchestrate an attack as captain from the middle of a defense.
Let's jump into some film with a glance at why there's optimism for Moses' potential as a three-down defender. He doesn't get lost in traffic during pass-coverage duties, utilizing elite vision and decisiveness to contain aerial efforts in his region of the field.
The sequence below is from a nationally televised August clash between IMG Academy and Georgia powerhouse Grayson High School. Moses totaled 14 tackles in the 26-7 victory, per MaxPreps, and put in solid work while dealing with Clemson quarterback commit Chase Brice.
Brice takes this snap from IMG's 33-yard line, immediately looking in Moses' direction. The linebacker, rotating toward his left in coverage, is persistent while peeking back toward the pocket:
Recognizing his receiver has some cushion near the sideline, Brice fires an accurate pass that doesn't knock the target off his momentum. However, Moses' close to the ball is perfect and—without warranting consideration for a penalty—he is already wrapping up the receiver upon completion, limiting damage to a modest five-yard gain:
Now let's take a look at his ability to diagnose and extinguish run attempts. The next clip occurs in IMG's cross-country victory over perennial Southern California contender Centennial High School.
Implementing occasional read-option looks with athletic 4-star 2018 quarterback Tanner McKee, Centennial kept opposing defenses off-balance throughout the season and enjoyed success against IMG during a 50-49 defeat. Gap integrity and quick reaction time are imperative to slow down this unit, and Moses managed to make a key stop here.
Lined up over the top of the right offensive tackle in a wide-split alignment, Moses monitors backfield progression as McKee places the ball in the belly of 3-star running back Miles Reed. The quarterback keeps his eyes fixed on Moses and feigns the possibility of pulling the ball out and taking off himself:
This deception doesn't work. Once he evaluates the quarterback-running back exchange and sees Reed surge with space to maneuver, Moses plants and fires toward midfield, crushing the ball-carrier in a violent collision:
It was one of Moses' 23 tackles in the matchup, and it may have prevented an untouched dash to the end zone.
Moses is no stranger to monumental expectations, and those won't dissipate when he steps onto a college campus. The presence of several other high-profile Alabama defenders should soften initial pressure, but we're essentially talking about a recruiting folk hero, so many would be shocked if he spends much time on the sideline.
We ultimately view his intelligence as an indicator of immediate-impact potential, even while tasked with climbing one of the most talented defensive depth charts we've witnessed in recent college football memory. Moses will arrive next month, when Tuscaloosa may be celebrating a fifth national championship under Saban.
It remains to be seen how many Alabama defenders declare for early NFL draft entry, but we expect Moses to make a push for reps throughout his first spring camp. This is an incredibly nuanced player for his age, and there's supportive evidence to suggest he'll take on the arduous nature of day-to-day collegiate tasks in stride.
When it comes to defensive players, he is the closest thing college football recruiting has seen to a LeBron James prospect. Recognized for rare athleticism and attributes during early-teen years, he's largely fulfilled prodigious promise and will enter the next chapter of a heavily monitored football career with plenty of people clamoring about his professional potential.
Moses has the mindset, physicality and fundamental foundation to earn multiple all-conference accolades during his upcoming collegiate career. Another Butkus Award could lie ahead if he remains healthy and emerges as a staple of Saban's attack.
The bar is set high, and we'd bet on Moses to meet it.
Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Quotes and observations obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Prospect ratings courtesy of Scout.
Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.