Alabama coaches, fans, players, and opponents are noticing Reggie Ragland, the 6-2, 254-pound junior linebacker who moved into the weakside linebacker spot vacated by C.J. Mosley last year. Mosley seems to be headed towards NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, but no one in the Crimson Tide camp at any level has been heard murmuring that “We miss C.J.”
Reggie Ragland has been doing just fine, thank you.
Ragland, who played at Bob Jones High School in Madison, was able to brag – mischievously – when asked who has the best hands on the defense, “Oh, me, of course!” He quickly added, “Just kidding,” but no Tider has made an interception like the one he stabbed in a 59-0 win over Texas A&M. And last Saturday night in Knoxville, in the Crimson Tide’s 34-20 win over Tennessee, Ragland put a hit on the Vols’ quarterback that resulted in a dramatic ball-bursts-out fumble, which was recovered by the Tide. That turnover led to a Bama touchdown and a 27-0 lead.
On Monday, there was Reggie Ragland’s name on the list of 15 linebackers across the nation who made the Butkus Award semifinals. That may be the biggest news of the week from the Alabama football camp as the Crimson Tide has an open date this weekend. The
Tide will practice a few days this week and then begin getting ready for a trip to LSU – Bama’s last road game of the regular season – on Nov. 8. Alabama is 7-1 this year and 4-1 in Southeastern Conference games and ranked third in the nation
Ragland was in on nine tackles to lead the Alabama defensive effort in Knoxville. For the year he has taken over as the Crimson Tide leader in tackles with 27 primary stops and 29 assists. He has been in on seven tackles for loss and two sacks, has broken up three passes, and recovered two fumbles.
Ragland said he doesn’t have a preference on making a big hit or an interception. In fact, he doesn’t even have a preference for who makes it. “Anyone who can make a bit play for us is good,” he said.
It seemed as though even the media had forgotten C.J. Mosley when Ragland was asked what the difference had been for him this year compared to last year. Ragland explained that this year he’s getting on the field because an All-America – and, incidentally, last year’s Butkus Award winner – had made it tough to get playing time in 2013.
He also explained his businesslike approach to football, “going in and watching film, being more focused inside the meeting room, especially from Coach Steele (Bama Linebackers Coach Kevin Steele). Coach Steele keeps my spirits up. Every time I go on the field and every time I see him he says ‘Eyes, Reggie,’ and that was the biggest thing for me was my eyes, and each week I’m getting better at it.”
He said the game has begun to slow down for him. “At first it was real fast for me,” he said. “Now things are starting to slow down and I can see it before it comes.”
Ragland, however, has not heard from C.J. Mosley lately. “He’s got his own thing,” Ragland said. “He’s got to keep his focus on playing in the National Football League.”One suspects Reggie and C.J. will have opportunities to chat in the future.