Hits Keep Coming From C.J. Mosley
C.J. Mosley has had a spectacular career and an exceptional senior season for Alabama, being named winner of the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker and a unanimous All-America. He will close out his Crimson Tide career on Jan. 2 in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma.
In Bama's last appearance in the Louisiana Superdome, the Crimson Tide was playing LSU in the BCS National Championship Game at the end of the 2011 season. The Bama defense was superb as Alabama won the national title with a 21-0 victory over the Tigers. One of the defensive highlights of the game for Alabama was an interception by Mosley. On the runback, though, Mosley was tackled by the LSU quarterback, Jordan Jefferson, who had made the throw. Mosley suffered a dislocated hip and had to be taken from the field by medical personnel.
Thus, Mosley has two goals against Oklahoma:
"Most importantly, a win," he said. "Just playing hard and getting back to Alabama football for this last game and going out with a bang."
His second goal: "My plan is that after the game I can walk off the field by myself," Mosley said. "I'm not going to think about getting hurt or anything like that. Just going to play like I've been playing."
Like he's been playing is outstanding. Following the Tide's last game and before Bama resumed practice for the Sugar Bowl last week, Mosley was on the awards circuit. He said it took its toll. "I was just tired," he said. "I traveled from Charlotte to Houston to Orlando. After all of those early flights, I was just ready to go to sleep."
Mosley had a surprise before even starting the awards circuit when the Alabama team had its awards banquet. Legendary linebacker Dick Butkus showed up to present the award named for Butkus and given to the nation's best linebacker. It went to Mosley.
"It was a big surprise," Mosley said. "I wasn't expecting it that early or for him to even be there after the banquet. So it was a real nice set up. My family was happy to see him. My mom and dad are from Chicago. My dad watched him when he was growing up so it pretty was cool that he got to meet him because it was kind of like him getting to meet his favorite linebacker."
In addition to being named All-America and Butkus winner, Mosley picked up a handful of awards at the team banquet, including team MVP and captain (along with quarterback A.J. McCarron and wide receiver Kevin Norwood.
"The Butkus is definitely a big thing, being named the best linebacker in the country," Mosley said. "That's like the Heisman for a defensive player. Being named a team captain, that has to be the best. My name will be at Bryant-Denny and Denny Chimes for the rest of my life and going on. That's just a big honor for me."
Mosley said he enjoyed having a "little small talk" with Butkus. "It was real nice to meet him," Mosley said. "Very laid back type of guy. You wouldn't expect that after seeing his highlights."
For the second consecutive year, Mosley has been Alabama's leading tackler, going over 100 in each season – 102 thus far this year. He has nine tackles for loss, five quarterback pressures, five passes broken up, and a forced fumble. He was also a consensus All-America in 2012.
With one game to play, he has 313 career tackles, just 14 shy of the Alabama record.
Alabama concluded the first phase of its pre-bowl practice Monday with part of the time scheduled to be spent on a simulated game. Speaking before the practice, Mosley said that everyone had responded well in the week of work. The first segment of four practices was a throwback to fall camp, emphasis on fundamentals, the second segment incorporating work on Oklahoma.
"We're just trying to have fun and do the right things for this last game and this last win," he said. "We have to make sure we keep guys in the right mindset. We don't want guys complaining about practice. Practice isn't easy no matter who you play. You just have to make sure you're doing the right things."
Mosley explained the practice routine from a defensive standpoint. He said, "We have to make sure we're fitting up in the right spots because we can't tackle. We don't want anybody getting hurt. We just have to make sure we put ourselves in the right position to make plays."
The so-called "thud practice," he said, has its difficulties. "It's harder to thud than it is to tackle," he said. "When you're running up to a wide receiver that's running full speed, you have to give him a thud when it's easier just to dive for him. It helps, too, because during bowl games that's when defenses sort of diminish on tackling and making plays so we have to do what we have to do."
Mosley said that based on the past, the practice plan works. He said, "We practice thudding and we practice fitting up and hitting people and getting ourselves in the right position. So if you practice it, you'll do well in the game."
Mosley is thinking about the future for Alabama, next year when Mosley is almost certainly playing for an NFL team. Asked who would take over as the defensive leader, Mosley had a name, but he also had an "if." The name was fellow inside linebacker Trey DePriest, who is finishing up his junior season, and the "if" was "if he stays."
Mosley said, "He's not really young, but Trey DePriest. If he stays, it will be him. He doesn't get a lot of credit, but he's a pretty good linebacker. He knows the defense just like I do. If he comes back like I did, he'll evolve into that every down linebacker role so people will be able to see his true talents. They'll see he can control the defense and be the only linebacker on the field and make all the calls."
Mosley pointed out that there are good linebackers behind him and DePriest, but that "The next corps is real young. We just have to make sure we still have guys mentoring. Even when I come back or stay in touch with them after I leave to make sure they have their head on the right track so they can help this school and help the defense keep going."
Mosley was asked about D.J. Pettway, who had been dismissed by Alabama early this year and then allowed to re-sign with the Tide last week. "I'm happy he got a second chance," Mosley said. "He helped us out when he was here. It's good that he got his things cleared up. It's always good to get a second chance. Hopefully he takes advantage of it."
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