BamaInsider Top 40 for 2020: Dylan Moses takes the top spot
Over the past few weeks, BamaInsider has unveiled its annual top-40 list for the Alabama football team. Players were rated based on their projected impact for the Crimson Tide this season. Today we conclude the series by looking at who we feel will be the most impactful player for Alabama this season, linebacker Dylan Moses.
2018 stats (missed 2019 due to injury)
— 86 tackles (led the team)
— 10 tackles for a loss
— 3.5 sacks
— 1 forced fumble
Why he's here
Nick Saban isn’t much for hypotheticals, but here’s one the head coach probably asked himself several times last season: “What if Dylan Moses had not been injured?” A Butkus Award finalists in 2018, Moses was set to take over as the Tide’s signal-caller from the Mike linebacker position last season. However, those plans took an abrupt turn as he tore his ACL during practice a week before the opener against Duke.
Moses’ season-ending injury, paired with the loss of Joshua McMillon earlier in fall camp, forced Alabama to start two freshmen in Shane Lee and Christian Harris at inside linebacker. That inexperience up the middle ultimately led to several costly miscues in both of Alabama’s losses.
Now fully recovered, Moses should help turn one of Alabama’s weakest areas into arguably its biggest strength on defense. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder is the prototypical modern-day linebacker, possessing both the agility to chase down ball carriers from sideline-to-sideline as well as the necessary downhill power to play over the middle. Along with his physical abilities, the redshirt junior should also serve as the safety blanket Alabama’s defense needed in big games last season.
Moses should also be one of the biggest voices in the Crimson Tide’s locker room. Even after going down to injury last season, he tried to lead his team from the sideline, dressing out for the game against LSU. Last offseason, Moses embraced his new leadership position, stating it was something he has wanted since joining the Crimson Tide in 2017.
“Personally, I just really want to lead the defense in the way it’s supposed to be led,” Moses said during last year’s SEC Media Days. “I’m the type of guy, I’m a perfectionist. I want things done the right way, same as Coach Saban. I’m hard on myself, and just as I’m hard on myself I’m going to be hard on other guys as well. I just want things done the way it’s supposed to be.”
Most of Alabama’s defensive milestones are out of reach, even for an elite talent like Moses. The redshirt junior currently has 116 tackles over two seasons, putting him a whopping 211 stops behind Wayne Davis for Alabama’s all-time mark. While Moses has the ability to record back-to-back 100-tackle seasons, most expect the former five-star recruit to depart for the NFL next year.
As for single-season records, no recent Crimson Tide defender has come close to reaching Woodrow Lowe’s 134 tackles set in 1973. Alabama’s highest tackle total under Saban came from Reuben Foster, who tallied 115 stops while winning the Butkus Award in 2016. It’s a safe bet that Lee Roy Jordan’s single-game record of 31 stops against Oklahoma in 1962 won’t be falling anytime soon either.
After five straight years of having a defender record 100 or more tackles, Alabama hasn’t had someone reach the century mark since 2016. While school records might be out of the picture, that’s a milestone Moses could certainly reach this season.
Bold prediction: Moses wins the Butkus Award and is named a permanent team captain
Upon announcing his decision to forgo the NFL draft in December, Moses said he is looking to “finish my Alabama career in style.” The redshirt junior should be in a position to do just that in what should be his final season with the Crimson Tide.
After finishing as a finalist for the Butkus Award in 2018, Moses enters the season as the favorite to take home the honor this year. Alabama’s defense will look to lean on the redshirt junior early on as it replaces its two top pass rushers as well as four starters in the secondary. If Moses can get the Tide's defense back on track and guide Alabama to the College Football Playoff, expect him to leave Tuscaloosa, Ala. with plenty of hardware.
“The 2020 season will be very personal to me, and I want nothing more than to finish my Alabama career in style. This program’s goal is to compete for championships and next year will be no different. Next season isn’t about draft stock or money — it’s about grinding with my brothers and winning another national title.” — Dylan Moses upon announcing his decision to return to Alabama in December.