As the Alabama Crimson Tide closed out its final home game of the season with a 49-0 thrashing of the Chattanooga Mocs, the City of Tuscaloosa had one last chance to say goodbye to a senior leader who has been a crucial part of the last two national titles — and one of the best hopes to finish out 2013 with a third.
He’s helped call the right plays, get the right guys in position, shined when needed in big moments and has become an example on and off the field during his tenure with the Tide.
No, I’m not talking about quarterback A.J. McCarron, though he’s pretty important, too. I’m talking about linebacker C.J. Mosley.
You know, the guy who led the team with seven tackles Saturday in limited duty, including two tackles for loss.
“For me, it was perfect,” the reliable linebacker said of his final outing at Bryant-Denny Stadium. “We came out with a shutout. It can’t get any better than that for a defensive player.”
Mosley has been a key contributor the past few years and took up the role of “defensive quarterback” the past season to make sure Bama’s rebuilding defense didn’t suffer a dropoff. Aside from the 562-yard debacle against Johnny Football in College Station way back in September, he’s more than accomplished that goal.
On a squad largely made up of role players, Mosley has emerged as a potential first-round draft pick and dark horse Heisman candidate (seriously, just ask Sports Illustrated).
If not the most prestigious award in college football, Mosley is at least expected to pull down a few others — as he’s currently a finalist for the Bednarik Award for best defensive player, the Lombardi Award for best interior lineman or linebacker, the Butkus Award for best linebacker and the Lott Award for best defensive impact player.
Not bad for a guy who shares a team with headline hogs like McCarron and running back T.J. Yeldon.
Alabama’s defense has been so outstanding the past few years, fans can sometimes forget just how good the guys are out there forcing all those third-and-longs.
So, while McCarron got the (admittedly well-deserved) big cheer from the crowd as he headed to the sideline for the last time at Bryant-Denny, the signal-caller on the other side with his head down patrolling midfield will be just as missed once he’s gone and playing in the big leagues.
“I had fun this year, especially with this defense,” Mosley said. “I’ve known these guys since they were freshmen. I’m like the old head of the team now. I’m proud that I’ve led these guys this far and we finished off the right way at home.”
% Trent Moore can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 134 or at firstname.lastname@example.org