TDA: Coming from Georgia, what made you choose to roll with the Tide over the state schools?
CJ: Truthfully, coming out of high school, my senior year I was the only kid getting recruited heavily by division one schools. I was a Notre Dame fan actually, I knew a lot about Georgia and Alabama, but what sold me the year before was a guy from my high school, Burke County, named Lannis Baxley. I went on my visit and he was a guy I already knew and told me the ins and outs of the system and being an Alabama player. Having somebody at Alabama that I knew that I could trust played a big part for me and I felt comfortable.
TDA: You came in 1999 during a time where Alabama was believed to be getting back to the glory days. What do you remember most about that season?
CJ: It was really the camaraderie. When I first stepped foot on campus, everyone was like a family. In 1998 we had a top recruiting class and in 99 we had a top recruiting class too. Our class was supposed to be the class to bring the spark back to Alabama. It was a brotherhood, everyone was together and we had great coaches and everything came together to win a SEC Championship.
TDA: Y’all followed up the 1999 season after winning an SEC Champoionship, almost winning the Orange Bowl, a 10-3 season to a 3-8 season after starting the season in the top 5. From your estimation, what happened that year?
CJ: I redshirted in 99, and in 2000, I didn’t really play. I had issues going on with considering to transfer actually. Truthfully, it may have been complacency and carry over from 99 and expecting that we would keep improving. But it seemed like we just got complacent. And each week you’re going against top talent every week in the SEC. It’s tough for me, because while I was there, I wasn’t playing much either.
TDA: What’s your take on the Andrew Zow situation? Do you think he was treated fairly?
CJ: I think with each situation, after the 2000 season when Mike Dubose got fired, transition happened and with Coach Franchione coming in it was a blessing for me to have another opportunity to play. The same thing with Andrew and the other quarterbacks. Different systems would fit different players. Fran’s system was different from Dubose’s so it was one of those situations. I’m a prime example because I may not have played at Bama if Dubose would have stayed, it gave me an opportunity to start and play for 3 years. If you don’t fit that system, they are goinna put guys they feel fit it the best. Kind of like being caught between a rock and hard place.
TDA: Your breakout year came in 2002 when you had 85 tackles and 3 interceptions. Talk about that season and how you were able to make such an impact.
CJ: Just maturing. Coming there I was a small country kid from Waynesboro Georgia, in 2002, I had been there 3 years, and our coordinator was Carl Torbush and it was my second year in the system and I knew the defense like the back of my hand. It helped me excel with making plays. We had some really good guys on that team who eventually played in the NFL like Kendall Moorehead, Kenny King, Antwan Odom, and Jarret Johnson. Some of us came in together on the scout team like Waine Bacon, Gerald Dixon, and Herschel Bolden, and we built that bond and that family structure. In college ball, you have to take advantage of opportunities in making plays, and that gave me a great year that year.
TDA: You were listed at 5-11 – 6’0 and about 180 pounds. Playing in the SEC, how were you able to make such an impact at safety despite your perceived size limitation?
CJ: The heart I had. It doesn’t matter your size, it matters the size of your heart and the work you put in and your craft. My knowledge of the game is what really helped me. I studied film and I knew so much about football and I just put myself in the best scenario. I made all the calls for the secondary as a free safety and it was just the dedication and passion and just heart. Having that heart of the lion in you. It doesn’t matter about your size. It’s about what you bring to the table, and I did what I could to help my team out. I tell people now I played safety at Alabama but my biggest weight was at 185 pounds. Just because you’re small don’t think you can’t play.
TDA: What was the most memorable game you played in?
CJ: There are really two games. The first one that comes to mind is when we broke the streak in 2002 beating Tennessee, going up to Knoxville and beating them. I’m from Georgia, and the rivalry between Tennessee and Georgia was huge too, so it was big for me. I caught an interception in the end zone which was a key play during the game and we just played lights out and silenced Neyland Stadium. The other game was when we went to Baton Rouge and shut LSU out. We played lights out. That was the best game defensively I was apart of and once again silence in Death Valley. It was really big for me.
TDA: What was it like during your time in the NFL?
CJ: Playing wise it wasn’t too much of an adjustment as far as speed, the biggest thing I noticed was it was a business. With it being a business — your talent, ability, money, and numbers all take a major role in how things go. I was a free agent, and in college you have a certain amount of DB’s and in the NFL, it doesn’t matter if someone gets hurt, they’ll just cut the low man on the totem pole. It’s the best of the best and it was a blessing to make it there and play.
TDA: What are you up to now?
CJ: Right now I’m the secondary coach at Eastern Community College in Decatur, Mississippi. It’s about an hour and 45 minutes from T Town (Tuscaloosa). This is my third year here. I enjoy it. I’ve been caoching for the past few years. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it at first, but I realized it was my passion and I love it.
TDA: Do you want to eventually coach at a higher level like the SEC some day?
CJ: You always want to coach at the highest level if possible. Right now, I want to enjoy what I’m doing and God-willing if I’m able to coach in the SEC, or NFL, that would be great, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t make it because I strive to be the best and teach the young men what I’ve learned. I wouldn’t have gotten to UA if I didn’t have good coaches. All the way from little league to high school. My mentors are Charlie Harbison and Melvin Smith, I still talk to them because they were instrumental for me.
LB C.J. Mosley
DT Jeremy Clark
LB Eryk Anders
LB DeMeco Ryans
LB Nico Johnson