I like our linebacking corps a lot, I really do. For those that have followed my articles, you know that I have myself a little man crush on Nico Johnson. I’ve always felt he was capable of big things and, this year, he’ll be the leader on defense. Supposedly, he’s the only guy that watches more film that Saban, so take that for whatever it’s worth. Nico will be flanked by some pretty good players in their own rights. CJ Mosley and Trey DePriest are exceptional and, of course Adrian Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson will be beasts rushing off the edges. In fact, I suspect Hubbard and Dickson will spend some time with their hands on the ground just as Upshaw and Hightower did from time to time, as their presence in the “rabbits” package could wreak havoc. Linebacker is probably the deepest position on the team, as there are a ton of guys who deserve to play quite a bit.
Nico Johnson – 6’3, 245. Former 4 star from Andulusia, Alabama.
Nico will be the leader of the defense this season as he’ll be responsible for making the calls and getting everyone in the right alignments. As a senior, Johnson has a ton of experience in the defense and, honestly, he was born for this role.
CJ Mosley – 6’2, 234. Former 4 star from Theodore, Alabama.
Mosley is likely the best pass covering linebacker we’ve ever had at the Capstone. High superlative, to be sure, but he’s simply that good. He’ll be in all of the nickel and dime packages, which we play more than 50% of the time.
Trey DePriest – 6’2, 242. Former 4 star from Springfield, Ohio.
If you can count, you may be realizing that I have more than four linebackers in this list. Well, Mosley has to be considered as a starter as he’ll be in the lineup more than most other LBs. But, in the base 3-4 defense, DePriest is the other inside backer and he has a TON of talent. Love to watch him on special teams and now he’s going to be head hunting near the line of scrimmage. Sweet.
Adrian Hubbard – 6’6, 248. Former 4 star from Norcross, Georgia.
They say Mr Hubbard is next to unblockable and, since we have the nation’s best offensive line, that speaks volumes. Volumes of sacks are expected from Hubbard who should be a holy terror coming off the edge.
Xzavier Dickson – 6’3, 262. Former 4 star from Griffin, Georgia.
If Hubbard strikes you with speed, Dickson just strikes you. He was a man among boys in the Under Armor All Star game as he relentlessly went sideline to sideline during the game. He was fun to watch and I’m excited about watching him blow up some poor RBs who are forced to take him on in blitz situations.
Tana Patrick – 6’3, 236. Former 4 star from Stevenson, Alabama.
Tana was projected to be the next great Alabama linebacker when he came into the fold back in 2009 and he hasn’t quite had the opportunity to show himself. He’s currently listed behind DePriest so it will be tough for him to get a chance to play other than special teams.
Anthony Orr – 6’4, 268. Former 3 star from Harvest, Alabama.
I’ll be honest with you – I haven’t heard much about Orr at all. Currently, he’s listed as a backup to Xzavier Dickson but I think you’ll see Ryan Anderson take that spot very soon.
Jonathan Atchison – 6’3, 240. Former 3 star from Atlanta, Georgia.
Atchison chose Alabama over Auburn a few years ago and, outside of that, he hasn’t made many headlines. Again, I haven’t heard much about him at all during camp but he’s listed as backing up Hubbard for the moment.
Ryan Anderson – 6’2, 244. Former 5 star from Daphne, Alabama.
Simply put, Ryan Anderson is a game changer. Once he gets acclimated to the outside rush position, he very likely will be the next Courtney Upshaw or even better. This young man has a world of potential and is so strong and fast for his size. I can’t wait to see this kid play.
Others of Note
The 2012 class brought in a massive haul of very, very good linebackers. Denzell Duvall, Ryan Anderson, Dillon Lee, Reggie Ragland and Tyler Hays have all been brought up during camp as guys who are understanding the playbook and making plays. The future is so bright for this position that I had to make a special “Others of Note” just to capture the true talent at this position. Alabama is linebacker U and will be for quite a while.
First, a note about the “Incoming” section. These kids have only given a verbal commitment to Alabama and, as we’ve seen in recruiting, things can change before signing day.
Walker Jones – 6’3, 230. Current 3 star from Cordova, Tennessee.
After the bountiful amount of goodness in the 2012 linebacking haul, Alabama is currently taking it pretty easy on this front. There is only one commitment at the LB position but you might recognize his last name. This is Barrett and Harrison Jones’ youngest brother and he’s projected to be an inside linebacker.
This group is just sick with talent. While the edge rushers will be inexperienced, they’ll also be better athletes than their predecessors. Once they figure out the system and get acclimated to the speed of the game, it’s Katy bar the door…and max protect…and hide the quarterback…because they’ll be coming….and hell will be coming with them!