The Tide are coming off yet another national championship season with no shortage of players positioned to become the next great at any given position. With that also comes players who will see their best chance to contribute come and go, pushed down the depth chart by a new crop of top recruits.
For the 2018 season, one player at this crossroads is linebacker Mack Wilson.
Gone are senior leaders Shaun Dion Hamilton and Rashaan Evans, both selected in this year’s NFL Draft. With a potential superstar Dylan Moses beside him, and the only backup with any experience in Keith Holcombe contemplating a baseball career, Wilson has the opportunity and weight of being the leader of a defense and front seven who will need to give a young secondary time to develop.
Wilson saw playing time early in his career simply because of his athletic ability. As a freshman, Wilson saw action in all 15 games as a member of the special teams, totaling six stops as a part of kickoff coverage.
Last year, Wilson built on his freshman campaign and, despite a foot injury, saw playing time in 12 games, making two starts. During the College Football Playoff, Wilson made his first career start against Clemson where he collected a career-high six stops, broke up one pass, and picked off another pass which he returned 18-yards for a score. Wilson stepped his game up even more against Georgia where he set a new career-high for tackles with 12. Wilson added two tackles for loss in the comeback win against the Bulldogs.
Wilson has set the bar high with his play after a successful run through the Playoff. This is why players come to Alabama: to have a chance to be the best.
His play, plus the opportunity to not only be a starter, but a leader, add another layer to the complexity of Wilson’s hot seat. That isn’t a bad thing. Wilson has created this.
When you elevate your play to a level like Wilson did, it comes with certain expectations. Now, with a depleted linebacking corps and an opportunity to take over as a defensive play-caller, it’s up to Wilson to once again exceed expectations.
(You can follow Justin Nails on Twitter @JustinNails)
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