TUSCALOOSA – Junior Mack Wilson and sophomore Dylan Moses will be Alabama’s most touted inside linebacker tandem ever based on high school recruiting services.
Both five-star talents, Moses won the Butkus Award for high schoolers while Wilson was learning the ropes under Reuben Foster and “big brother” Shaun Dion Hamilton as a freshman at Alabama.
They’re not thumpers like Rolando McClain or Reggie Ragland, but are fast like Reuben Foster and Rashaan Evans. If Alabama’s defensive front handles its business, Moses and Wilson are capable of each posting 100 tackles this season – and making history.
Nick Saban’s never had two Tide players make 100 stops in the same season. Alabama must play 14 to 15 games to give Wilson and Moses a legit shot, but they’re capable three-down players – and that’ll help.
Now granted it was the A-Day game, but Wilson and Moses were impressive.
Moses – Game-high 10 tackles, ½-stop for loss.
Wilson – Seven tackles, two pass breakups.
If they can come close to consistently putting up numbers like that in 2018, they’ll each reach 100.
They’re ideal size (Moses 6-3, 232, Wilson 6-2, 237), athletic and versatile. Moses can blitz off the edge like Evans did on passing downs. He posted 5.5 tackles for loss as part of his 30 total stops.
Moses is not only fast, but has that burst where he zeroes in and is suddenly on top of you. He put that ability on full display against his home state school – LSU – with 1.5 sacks.
“Last year, it took me eight games to get to where I needed to be,” said Moses after last month’s spring game. “Once I got past the LSU game, I started getting my feet wet.”
Wilson can call plays, play the dime linebacker and cover. He led Alabama in interceptions last season with four, but made his mark in the College Football Playoff. He established career highs in tackles with six in the semifinals against Clemson and 12 versus Georgia in the national title game.
“I just try to be the best player I can be when I’m on the field,” said Wilson after the national title game.
Wilson and Moses have shown the ability to deliver, but not for an entire season. They’ll get their chance this year, but must stay healthy. Wilson and Moses were both plagued by foot issues last season.
If they can stay out the injury tent and Alabama’s d-line, led by Raekwon Davis, handles its business, Wilson and Moses will live up to the 5-star billing and make history in 2018.
(Duane Rankin is an award-winning columnist/videographer for the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser whose work also can be found in USA TODAY. You can follow him on Twitter @DuaneRankin)
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