TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama senior linebacker Dylan Moses shed some new light on the struggles that he has gone through this season on Thursday in his first press conference with the media since revealing that he has played through pain for the entirety of the 2020 season.
Moses, who tore his ACL just days before the season opener against Duke back in August of 2019, revealed in an Instagram post last Saturday that he has fought through pain in essentially every game he’s played since his recovery.
“From not knowing whether or not we’d have a season, fighting through pain every single game due to not being fully recovered from the knee injury I went through last year, to losing my grandmother to COVID-19,” Moses wrote. “All of this has only made me stronger and I’m happy I was able to be there day in and day out with my teammates no matter what I was going through.”
Moses also revealed that he also considered quitting football, but his family persuaded him to stay the course and continue playing for the Crimson Tide. After missing the entirety of the 2019 season, Moses returned in 2020 in the Crimson Tide’s first game against Missouri.
According to the senior linebacker, the game was the first time he had felt fully recovered since his injury.
“Just as far as going through pain and stuff throughout the year, the first time I felt like 100 percent myself was the very first game of the season against Missouri,” Moses said. “After that just all throughout the season it was just constantly like pain and all that. But like I said, it was something I had to persevere through. I never had to go through a whole season feeling like that. It was new for me. But at the same time it wasn't nothing I couldn't play through.
“Like I said, I'm really tough when it comes to dealing with a lot of pain and all that, but at the end of the day, I just wanted to be there for my teammates, make a difference, and be able to make the calls for them.”
Moses totaled 86 tackles in the 2018 season and was widely considered to be one of the top linebackers in the country. He also had a forced fumble, an interception and four passes defended, with his efforts earning him a spot as a finalist for the Butkus Award.
2020 has been a different story for Moses, though. While he has still managed to make 74 tackles — no small feat considering his circumstances — Moses hasn’t been as productive this season as many had wished.
One unseen element that has led to the Crimson Tide’s success on defense has been communication, which was something the team lacked in Moses’ absence. During the 2019 season, lack of communication between the secondary, linebackers and defensive line was something that thwarted the team from reaching its full potential. With Moses’ return, though, the added experience was immediately noticeable this season.
Alabama coach Nick Saban spoke on Moses’ leadership on Thursday.
“I don't think there's any question about the fact that when Dylan Moses plays for us, he makes everybody around him play better,” Saban said. “He makes all the calls on defense. I think the players have confidence in him and his understanding of the system and the scheme.
“So I think he does enhance the confidence of the rest of the group because of his leadership, his knowledge, and his command of what we're doing on the field when he's in there.”
Moses’ leadership for the Crimson Tide is now more important than ever. Alabama is currently preparing for its matchup against No. 3 Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The Buckeyes possess one of the top offenses in the country, powered by quarterback Justin Fields and running back Trey Sermon.
It will be in games like the one on Monday night in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami that the team will need to count on Moses’ leadership the most.
Moses explained why he decided to come forward with his struggles from this season and reveal them to the public.
“At the end of the day I just really wanted to be there for my teammates,” Moses said. “Like I said, for that post that I made, it wasn't for me or for anybody to feel like any sympathy towards me. It was really for those people out there going through the same thing that I was going through and thinking about giving up and just showing that we're human. Like everyone who plays football or a professional sport or collegiate sport, we're all human. We go through the same things.
“So me putting that out there, that was for other kids or other athletes that are going through what I'm going through and showing that they can make it through.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Moses could technically return for one more season in order to give him higher draft stock after a relatively disappointing 2020 season. However, he has not announced whether he will return one last time and is expected to depart from the team.
Despite all of the distractions between his injury, the coronavirus and his future at Alabama, Moses said that he is focused on Monday night’s game in Miami.
“As of right now I'm just trying to focus on the championship game,” Moses said. “I'm not really worried about anything afterwards. I'm just going to take it one day at a time. After the game is over with, whatever happens, happens.”