If you've noticed a difference in C.J. Mosley this season, it's not your imagination.
The play on the field is the same. There is just more of it to enjoy. More playing time for starters, as the senior from Mobile has become an all-downs linebacker.
There's more emotion, too.
The usually reserved Mosley, who came back for his senior year to finish his degree and improve as a player, wanted to make the most of his final season at the University of Alabama. As of December 14, 2013, the day he graduates, Mosley will have accomplished both.
His more emotional play was on display against Ole Miss and has carried over.
"I've been playing way more animated than what I've been doing...just getting the crowd pumped and doing little things after the play," Mosley said. "But this is my last year and I'm going all out. I'm not holding anything back. That was one of the big things about me coming back, besides school, was not to have any regrets and go all out for this last year."
He's easily the most noticeable player on the Crimson Tide's defense. He tackles sideline to sideline, knows the defense inside and out and keeps his teammates lined up in all the right spots.
He's up for several end-of-the-season awards as he continues to climb the UA career tackles list, where he currently sits ninth, 35 shy of the top spot. He's been named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week in Alabama's last two games (against LSU and Mississippi State) and is vying again for All-American honors.
Whatever honors may come, Mosley still has team goals in mind. And if the team goals are accomplished, well, he sheepishly admits he hopes he's in contention for some individual accolades, too.
"I'm pretty much a laid back guy," Mosley said. "I try to stay humble about everything. I know I wouldn't be in the position I am now if it wasn't for the coaches and my teammates, so I am blessed to be in the situation. Hopefully we keep winning so I can get on that finalist list."
The leadership he's provided helped transition a young-in-spots defense from a group that gave up 42 points the second week of the season to a unit that leads the nation in scoring defense at 10.2 points a game.
"I think C.J. Mosley has played fantastic as a football player all year long," UA coach Nick Saban said. "He's demonstrated great leadership in terms of how he's affected and inspired other people with the example he sets and the intensity he plays with on a very, very consistent basis, and in practice does the same thing."
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.