HOOVER, Ala. — Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses has stepped up to become the quarterback of Nick Saban and Pete Golding’s defense.
While representing the Tide defense at SEC Media Days, Moses took time to evaluate himself and every aspect of the 2019 Bama stop troops.
“Playing middle linebacker, you have to be very vocal and you have to be a leader. I’ve grown more as a leader," Moses said. “I was a lead-by-example leader. Now, I’m being more vocal. It’s not me yelling at guys. It’s trying to reason with them and understand them. It’s not all about football. It’s about being that guy they can come to.
“As far as me playing that role, I feel like I’m ready for it. That’s what I’ve been molded into since I was a freshman. I’m motivated. I really want to lead.”
On the linebacker group, Moses said experience is key at the other inside slot: “I’ve learned a lot from [Josh McMillon]. Being a freshman here, and him being an older guy, I had to learn a lot as far as leadership and the playbook. He taught me a lot.”
Depth wise on the inside, freshman Shane Lee and sophomore Jaylen Moody have Moses’ eye.
“Shane is going to be another of our great players,” Moses opined. "It just takes time. He has to learn the plays and continue to grow confident in himself. As time goes on and [Lee] continues to learn the playbook, I feel like he’s going to be a good player.
“Same thing for [Moody]. They just have to stay in the film room. It’s more so confidence. I’ve been in their position before, having to get acclimated in the system and to learn plays. When it’s their time, they’ll be ready.”
Both projected outside starters — Terrell Lewis at strong-side and Anfernee Jennings at Jack, the hybrid linebacker/defensive end spot in Saban's scheme — have Moses’ respect.
Regarding the health of the injury-plagued Lewis, Moses said, “He looks very strong. I’ve been watching him. He’s always in the training room getting better and working on himself. When I’m in the training room working on myself, he’s in there too.
“As far as his leadership, he’s a really great leader. People look up to him. He’s going to be a great player.”
Senior Anfernee Jennings is yet another defensive leader. He was a team representative at 2018 Media Days in Atlanta.
“Anfernee Jennings is like a big brother to me," Moses said. "His locker is actually right next to mine. I’m always getting input from him and he’s always getting input from me. He’s always trying to learn from me as I’m trying to learn from him.
"It’s crazy saying that because he’s an older guy, but I’m really going to need him this year.”
Moses added that Eyabi Anoma is a player to watch.
“The dude is transitioning to something really, really dangerous,” he said. "He’s very athletic. He’s fast. He’s quick off the edge. He reminds me a lot of Tim Williams. Eyabi has a lot of potential. He just has to keep bettering his craft
“Chris Allen’s the same way. He’s another hometown [Baton Rouge] guy and he’s my best friend. He came off an injury last year and I’m trying to motivate him, because he’s going to be a dangerous player, too. He just has to keep working.”
On the defensive line, Moses has high hopes for senior Raekwon Davis who turned down an opportunity to leave early for the National Football League.
“He’s a really good player,” Moses said. “I came in a year after him. I got to watch him grow as a player. I feel like he’s going to be a great leader as well this year, too.”
As for the other projected starters on the defensive line, LaBryan Ray and DJ Dale: “They’re both very strong guys. They’re smart. DJ Dale, he really surprised me. He reminds me a lot of Da’Ron Payne. With [Dale] being so young and being so aggressive, it’s unbelievable to me.
“Same thing with LaBryan Ray. They both have an edge to them. When they get on the field, it’s like a different person, but off the field they’re very quiet and stay to themselves. It’s amazing.”
In the secondary, Moses likes what he’s seen of sophomore corner Josh Jobe.
“Josh is a very aggressive corner,” Moses said. “He has a lot of potential to be a really great corner at the University of Alabama. I see him being a leader one day. He just has to grow into that role.”
Someone who has grown into his role on the back end is junior safety Xavier McKinney.
“Xavier helps me out a lot with the play calls,” Moses noted. “If I’m saying something or calling something out, he’s echoing it. Xavier is one of my guys. We’ve been tight since our freshman year. It’s really great to be out there with him because I remember when we were freshmen and we were both out there struggling and didn’t know what to do. We messed up on the same plays. It’s amazing to be able to go out there with him and be able to lead.”
Moses feels the 2019 Tide “D” will get back to what Saban calls “the Alabama Standard.”
“That’s one of my main things," he said. "That’s really what I’m focusing on. It all boils down to the right leadership and guys being on the same page. The coach is going to make the right call. It’s all up to us to execute it. With that being said, it’s all up to me to get that done. I tell myself, and I tell everyone else, whatever happens with this defense this year is on me. I take pride in all of that. I’ve told you guys before, I’m a perfectionist and I want things done the right way just as Coach Saban wants things done the right way. That’s how I’m going to take it.”