Year after year, names like McClain, Hightower, Upshaw and Johnson have been synonymous with excellent linebacker play — providing the Alabama defense with a vocal leader as important as quarterbacks have been during the Saban era.
Returning for his fourth year at the Capstone, Theodore’s C.J. Mosley look to be the next name to be added to the list of the Crimson Tide’s legendary linebackers.
Mosley, who announced he was returning for his senior season in January, has already been tabbed as one of the best linebackers in the country for the upcoming 2013 season. A preseason All-SEC First Team selection, Mosley is on the watchlist for several major national awards — including the Butkus Awards that is given to the top linebacker in America.
For Mosley, who played alongside Hightower, Upshaw and Johnson, imparting the knowledge he has accumulated as part of two national championship teams, as well as serving as a mentor to the younger players in the program is as vital as his leadership on the field.
“It’s important that our younger players buy into our system — that’s how every player who has been successful in the league and off the field were able to make it. Those players bought into the Alabama tradition and standard and listened to coach Saban. It’s our role as leaders of the team to help guide them in that process so that they can also achieve that level of success,” Mosley said.
With the ongoing problem of player arrests and discipline breakdowns that plague many college football programs today, Mosley places a high importance on helping younger players avoid troubling situations on and off the field that could ultimately lead to unfortunate outcomes.
“I feel that being the player I have been in the past three years has set an example for those around me,” Mosley said. “I have been more vocal in affecting players — explaining the right things to do and how to carry themselves as members of our football team, regardless of what atmosphere they may be in or who they’re with.”
The return of Mosley, as well as the leadership that he brings to the team, hasn’t been lost on his head coach, either.
“C.J. Mosley is a fantastic player, has made a tremendous amount of plays, had a very good spring and we’re hopeful that he will have an outstanding season. I think that we have been extremely fortunate that he returned for his senior year,” Saban said.
“One of our concerns for this season is who will step up on the defensive side of the field and provide leadership. C.J. has certainly tried to take the bull by the horns and be a good leader for our team — it’s very critical for the players to respond and come together on defense with that leadership.”