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Alabama to grow more consistency at inside linebacker for 2019 season

© Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

He carries as much enthusiasm as other game-changing inside linebackers before him at the University of Alabama; however, Dylan Moses cannot do everything on his own.  

A native of Baton Rouge, La., the former five-star and returning junior finished last season as one of three finalists for the Dick Butkus Award – which goes to the best linebacker in high school, college and professional ranks. Lyndell “Mack” Wilson wanted the title of calling plays defensively, but it was Moses that was more prepared for the role through 15 games in 2018. 

He led the team in total tackles (86) as a sophomore and was among team leaders in tackles for loss (10) and sacks (3.5), to help the Crimson Tide secure a Southeastern Conference Championship and a 45-34 victory over Oklahoma in the Capital One Orange Bowl. 

Regardless of Moses being back as a leader and potentially first-round pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the inside ‘backer spot is the weakest one for Alabama this spring. No one else matches him with in-game experience and following the first scrimmage on last week, Nick Saban said the players at the position (especially the young ones) have a lot of work before fall camp. 

“Those guys have ability, but they make too many mental errors,” Saban said on the Tide’s young players at inside linebacker. “When you make errors at linebacker, you either have a gap that is unprotected or someone that’s uncovered, and we had way too many of those today.” 

The coaching staff will continue to work with players such as Jaylen Moody, Markail Benton and Shane Lee, but who can be trusted to help Moses? Joshua McMillon would certainly be a name to strike interest, especially with him being a redshirt senior for the upcoming season. 

McMillon, a native of Memphis, Tenn., has played in 18 games – including 10 in 2018 and recorded 14 total tackles.

The 6-foot-3, 237-pounder was No. 171 on the ESPN 300 upon arriving in Alabama’s 2015 class. He’s behind Moses in positional drills at practice and projects as the player that could be the biggest help.

Brandon “Ale” Kaho, a sophomore, is someone of whom Tide fans have placed much expectations on being special within the linebacker room. He was outstanding on special teams last season and with the personal issues behind him, people desire to see the duo of he and Moses rip through college football.

Like all the younger players, Kaho has a ton of ability to be successful but must continue to grow into Saban needs from him. 

With it holding Terrell Lewis (knee) out until the fall, Saban said the outside ‘backer group performed better in the first exhibition.

Alabama fans, who would you be most comfortable with assisting Moses inside?

Continue to check out tdalabamamag.com for updates on Tide football. 

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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