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Reggie Ragland Proving To Be Next Great Alabama Linebacker

Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

Alabama has been known for their great linebackers over the last few years and many of them have gone on to have success at the next level. Demeco Ryans was the star in the Shula years and has made a great career for himself in the NFL. Rolando McClain helped bring in the Saban Era and was the leader on the 2009 national championship defense. Since then, other linebackers like C.J. Mosely, Courtney Upshaw, Nico Johnson and Trey Depriest have been the big leaders of the defense. Now, with Reggie Ragland in the middle of the defense, the Crimson Tide may be as strong as ever.

Ragland was already a star on last year’s team. He recorded 95 tackles, which was second best on the team, including 10.5 for a loss and one of the best interceptions of the season in the 59-0 win over Texas A&M.

To the delight of all Alabama fans, Ragland decided to return for his senior year and wants to help the Crimson Tide get back to the College Football Playoff and finish what they didn’t last season. Going into this season, ESPN’s Todd McShay ranks Ragland as the top college linebacker ahead of Arizona’s Scooby Wright III and Auburn’s Cassanova McKinzy. He now comes into a season with high expectations and hasn’t disappointed yet.

The senior had a big game on Saturday night against Wisconsin, leading the Crimson Tide with 8.5 tackles. He helped the defense hold the Badgers to just 268 yards of total offense. Ragland’s ability to lead the defense showed throughout the game. As a linebacker, Ragland’s speed is used often in the defensive schemes. He can drop into coverage against any receiver while being able to read the quarterback and find any short checkdown. Ragland made two of his tackles in the flats against a running back in the open field.

Ragland is often used as the quarterback spy, allowing him to decide whether to drop into coverage or come on a blitz. He always seems to know where the opposing offense is going with the ball and how to stop it. Ragland allows defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to push members of the secondary on blitzes, trusting Ragland to be able to cover up any open spots in the middle of the field for the receivers. Freshman cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick recorded a sack last night, coming off the edge while Ragland had man coverage against the Badgers’ tight end.

Saturday night was just the beginning of what we will see from Ragland in 2015. The defense is strong but it all begins in the middle with the senior linebacker. He has the knowledge and ability to shut down an offense but it doesn’t hurt to have the supporting cast that is the Alabama defense.

Caleb Turrentine is a contributor at Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter, @CalebTurrentine.

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