TUSCALOOSA — Dylan Moses understands his place at Alabama this season. It’s one he’s prepared for most of his life.
Despite starting all 15 games last season, the self-described “natural-born leader” is eager to step into a more prominent role after biding his time behind other premier middle linebackers.
“This is what I prepared for,” Moses said last week. “I’m just happy to be where I’m at right now. I’m happy to be the leader of the defense, I’m happy to be able to have guys depending on me to lead them. I want to be able to lead them.”
Moses isn’t the only one ready to see how he does with more responsibility.
Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban described Moses as “the center of our defense” and the defensive “signal caller” as the team’s new Mike linebacker. He replaces former teammate Mack Wilson in that position.
For his part, Moses said he has embraced his new role.
“I’m a perfectionist, I want things done the right way — the same as Coach Saban — and I’m hard on myself just as I am on other guys as well,” Moses said. “I just want things to be done the way they’re supposed to be. I want our defense to be dominant.”
Moses is a former five-star signee from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“Dylan’s not a person that talks as much,” junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said, “but him being able to come out of his comfort zone, his shell, and being able to be open with guys, build relationships with guys on the defense as well as the offensive guys on the team is really what earns him respect on the team and wanting to listen to him and what he has to say.”
Moses played weakside/Will linebacker and led the Crimson Tide with 86 total tackles, including 10 for loss, to go along with 3½ sacks last season.
Transitioning to middle linebacker, Moses understands the move will inevitably change what he does on the field, potentially even statistically. Not that he’s worried much about that.
“It’s no pressure at all. That’s the thing, I really don’t want to leave the field,” Moses said. “As far as how my stats looked last year compared to this year, it’s going to be really different. That’s my whole thing, I’m very motivated in that, like I really don’t want to leave the field.”
He might not have much of an option in that this season.
Given the team’s lack of experience at inside linebacker, with only fifth-year senior Josh McMillon having played more than a handful of defensive snaps, Moses will be relied upon in different ways.
While Moses’ position is secure, weakside linebacker might be the team's biggest question mark.
As the most experienced of the group behind Moses, the 6-foot-3 and 237-pound McMillon is favored to start at Will in the season opener vs. Duke. But Saban has made it clear he’s got competition from some talented underclassmen.
Whatever the situation, Moses is aware he must shoulder greater responsibility this season, and he has embraced it.
“I tell myself and I tell everyone else, whatever happens with this defense this year, it’s on me,” Moses said. “And I take pride in all of that.”