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The Saban Top 100: No. 9 C.J. Mosley

The Saban Top 100: No. 9 C.J. Mosley

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The Saban Top 100: No. 9 C.J. Mosley

BamaCentral is ranking the top 100 players of the Nick Saban era at Alabama over the course of the 2020 football season

9] C.J. Mosley, LB

  • Won 2013 Butkus Award
  • 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2012 Consensus All-American; 2013 Unanimous All-American
  • 2012-13 All-SEC
  • 17th-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft
  • Was credited with 107 tackles in 2012, and 108 in 2013, both of which led the team
  • Team captain

The game was over, and the Alabama football team was back in its locker room at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but things still weren’t sitting right with linebacker C.J. Mosley. His team had just won convincingly, 31-6, over Colorado State, coached by former Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, but it had hardly been impressive.

Uninspiring and lackluster were words that would be used to describe the early 2013-season victory, but Mosley wouldn’t wait for the outside world and media to say what he already knew. So after Nick Saban gave his postgame speech, Mosley, followed by senior quarterback AJ McCarron and junior safety Vinnie Sunseri, spoke up and told his teammates that what they were doing wasn’t good enough.

“I started off because I was pretty upset, especially with the defense,” he said. “The things we gave up were mental errors, just little things, just fundamental errors. I felt like we're about to play Ole Miss next week and about to start getting into SEC play, those little things will get us beat bad, get us embarrassed.

“So we've got to make sure everyone's doing their job.”

Mosley’s message, which McCarron and Sunseri echoed, was simple, that everyone had to “buy in” to the team philosophy and how they went about things or the Crimson Tide could forget about trying to win a third straight national championship.

“I think some guys on the team just needed to hear it,” tight end Brian Vogler said.

Needless to say, the overall reaction to the impromptu speeches was positive, but perhaps more important was who led them. Mosley, the returning All-American who passed up a chance to be a first-round draft pick, wasn’t known for being the most vocal person on the team.

So when he demanded everyone’s attention, it wasn’t taken lightly.

“When he speaks, it’s felt,” linebacker Trey DePriest said. “He doesn’t really say too much. He’s a quiet guy. When he’s got something to say, that means it needs to be said.”

To stress how important Mosley thought it was to air things out, when a reporter subsequently asked what would happen if the younger players didn’t take heed of the situation, he responded, “They better. If not, they won't be on the field.”

It was arguably the first defining moment of the 2013 season, because even though No. 1 Alabama was 3-0 and had enjoyed a big Southeastern Conference win at College Station, the Crimson Tide had been anything but consistent. While the offense struggled against Virginia Tech and Colorado State, the defense yielded 42 points and a program record 628 total yards at No. 6 Texas A&M.

“All the guys have to do what they’re supposed to do, and do it when they’re supposed to do it,” right tackle Austin Shepherd said. “Just, we have to get it rolling.”

Mosley saw it too, even though his primary concern was the defense. He knew Alabama had more than enough talent, probably even more than the previous year’s national champions. It just had to start pulling it all together. Good wasn’t considered good enough, especially when compared to the 2009, 2011 and 2012 Crimson Tide teams that had staked their places in history.

For months coaches had been saying that everyone needed to be more personally invested for the team to be successful. But hearing Mosley’s speech was probably exactly what Saban and been waiting and hoping for. Even though the Crimson Tide had just nine scholarship seniors, they were also the ones everyone looked to because they understood better than anyone how hard one had to work to win a championship. They also knew the flip side, as nearly all of them had been on the three-loss 2010 team.

“Well, I don't think there's any question about it that that's what leadership is,” Saban said about the speeches. “Leadership, guys on the team, peer intervention, peer pressure, whatever you want to call it, is something that every good team has, because I don't think everyone is capable of doing the right thing the right way the right time all the time. There are some people that are, and there's some people that aren't. There's some people that need to be led. You know, sheep need to have a dog get’em home to the barn at night.

“Well, leadership I think is important to affecting a lot of those people.”

A week later, back in that same locker room, Mosley was smiling.

Further inspired by Ole Miss players claiming that they had been more physical than Alabama during the 2012 game, and would score against the Crimson Tide defense, it proved otherwise.

Standout running back Jeff Scott was limited to 28 rushing yards as the Rebels finished with just 46. Quarterback Bo Wallace had a frustrating night, competing just 17 of 31 passes for 159 yards. No. 21 Ole Miss converted just four third-down opportunities as Alabama roared to a 25-0 victory.

That was more of what Mosley had in mind.

“Definitely, pure domination, especially from the defense,” Mosley said. “We played a great game.”

Four times the Rebels had the ball well into Crimson Tide territory only to be stifled by a big play. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix set the tone on the opening possession when he sent Laquon Treadwell spinning into the air, and freshman Eddie Jackson started making a home for himself at cornerback when he intercepted an option pass by the freshman wideout.

But Mosley made the emotional stand of the game, late in the third quarter, when he snuffed out the Rebels’ best drive in the red zone. Jackson had just been flagged for targeting, although his automatic ejection was overturned by replay officials, and on a subsequent play an Ole Miss player went out of his way to drive Mosley to the ground well after the whistle had blown.

He’d had enough.

“He started yelling,” Clinton-Dix said. “I saw it in his eyes, and I just got the chills just looking at him.”

“From what I saw, he turned into a different guy,” said DePriest, who had never seen Mosley like that before. “It got me excited, it got the whole team fired up. He was ready to play, out there screaming, letting everyone know what the play was. It was good.”

When Mosley knocked down the fourth-down pass attempt, the Rebels were essentially done. For added emphasis, he made the key hit on a fourth-quarter safety.

“The guy's a fantastic player, but beyond that he's a fantastic person,” Saban said about Mosley. “The guy's a hard worker. If you just watch the game, whether it's covering a punt, the kickoff return against Virginia Tech, where he was running all the way down the sidelines with the guy. His effort, his intensity, the way he prepares for a game. He's got a lot of athleticism.

“He's got a lot talent. But he's also got a lot of true grit in him in terms of the kind of competitor he is and how he plays. The guy just doesn't know how to take a play off. I don't care what your circumstance is or whether he's on special teams or any role that you have for him, he's about as fine a competitor as anybody that we've had an opportunity to coach through the years.”

For his efforts, Mosley was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Week, but that was nothing compared to what he got from his teammates. He already had their respect. From that point on it was truly his defense.

“He’s the glue,” Sunseri said. 

Read More

The Saban Top 100 will be revealed over the course of the 2020 football season, with the top players unveiled one a day as part of BamaCentral's 25 Days of Christmas celebration.

The series thus far:


No. 10: Amari Cooper 

No. 11: Rolando McClain

No. 12: Trent Richardson

No. 13: Andre Smith

No. 14: Quinnen Williams

No. 15: Dont'a Hightower

No. 16: Jerry Jeudy

No. 17: Jalen Hurts

No. 18: Reuben Foster

No. 19: Chance Warmack

No. 20: Mark Barron

No. 21: Jonah Williams

No. 22: Da'Ron Payne

No. 23: Ryan Kelly

No. 24: Landon Collins

No. 25: Cam Robinson

26-30: Terrence Cody, Calvin Ridley, Javier Arenas, Reggie Ragland, Jedrick Wills Jr.

31-35: Dee Milliner, D.J. Fluker, Marlon Humphrey, Rashad Evans, A'Shawn Robinson

36-40: Rashaan Evans, Dre Kirkpatrick, Marcell Dareus, Eddie Jackson, O.J. Howard

41-45: Courtney Upshaw, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Henry Ruggs III, Jarran Reed, Xavier McKinney

46-50: Dalvin Tomlinson, Antoine Caldwell, Kareem Jackson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Trevon Diggs

51-55: Mike Johnson, T.J. Yeldon, Ronnie Harrison, Damien Harris, JK Scott

56-60: Ross Pierschbacher, Eddie Lacy, Bradley Bozeman, Ryan Anderson, Glen Coffee

61-65: Greg McElroy, Josh Jacobs, Anfernee Jennings, James Carpenter, Kenyan Drake

66-70: Terrell Lewis, Blake Sims, Christian Miller, Irv Smith Jr., Tim Williams

71-75: Mack Wilson, ArDarius Stewart, Deionte Thompson, Raekwon Davis, Jalston Fowler

76-80: Josh Chapman, Cyrus Jones, Kevin Norwood, Isaiah Buggs, Jake Coker

81-85: Bo Scarbrough, Anthony Averett, Leigh Tiffin, Ed Stinson, DeQuan Menzie

86-90: Jesse Williams, Shaun Dion Hamilton, William Vlachos, Da'Shawn Hand, Arie Kouandjio

91-95: Nico Johnson, Wallace Gilberry, DJ Hall, Vinnie Sunseri, Quinton Dial

96-100: Trey DePriest, Damion Square, Christion Jones, John Parker Wilson, Simeon Castille 

9] C.J. Mosley, LB

  • Won 2013 Butkus Award
  • 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2012 Consensus All-American; 2013 Unanimous All-American
  • 2012-13 All-SEC
  • 17th-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft
  • Was credited with 107 tackles in 2012, and 108 in 2013, both of which led the team
  • Team captain
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