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Alabama to possibly work sophomore linebacker Mack Wilson as a pass rusher

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Depth at inside linebacker was an issue for the University of Alabama football team in 2014, but with the way head coach Nick Saban has recruited, the position group will be stacked in the fall.

The returns of Shaun Dion Hamilton, Rashaan Evans, Keith Holcombe, Mack Wilson and Ben Davis to the roster provides defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt with a solid rotation. Add in a pair of freshmen – Dylan Moses and Christian Allen – and the Crimson Tide is sitting pretty.

Cross-training is of the norm in Tuscaloosa, especially with the talent Alabama pulls in. Having a sense of versatility to your game, allows for NFL scouts to value you more. Davis, a five-star prospect in the 2016 class, was moved from inside to outside linebacker back in the spring because of his athleticism. He was one of the nation’s top inside ‘backer’ prospects and son of Alabama legend, Wayne Davis, but Saban sees him more as an edge rusher.

Hailing from Montgomery, Ala., sophomore Mack Wilson was the other five-star recruit at linebacker for the 2016 class. He and Davis formed a bond at numerous high school tournament games, and have continued the appreciation for each other at Alabama. Wilson played in 15 matchups a season ago – serving on special teams, at linebacker, and on offense as a blocker. He would total six stops on special teams, open up a 2-yard score for running back Bo Scarbrough and record his first career touchdown reception against Kent State University.

His earth-shattering tackle on former Texas A&M wide receiver Speedy Noil created a buzz throughout Bryant-Denny Stadium and on social media. Plays like that combined with a 6’2″ and 244-pound frame makes all the reason why Saban is considering him as an impact contributor.

“Mack has had a really good summer,” Saban said during Alabama’s portion of Southeastern Conference media days on Wednesday. “We have a lot of confidence in his ability. I think he’s starting to mature and develop the confidence and understanding in the system to have a role, and be a good player for us. So, we are excited about him making a contribution.”

Rashaan Evans, who was named to the preseason All-SEC Team, possesses the instincts and quickness to play inside and outside. Pairing him with Christian Miller, Terrell Lewis (formerly Terrell Hall), Anfernee Jennings, Jamey Mosley and Mekhi Brown could be interesting, yet the explosiveness of Wilson in certain situations makes perfect sense for him at outside linebacker.

“He’s so athletic,” Saban said. “We could develop him as a rusher. I think inside linebacker is the one position we probably have the most depth at, with Shaun Dion coming back, with Rashaan Evans finishing the season last year for Shaun Dion and playing very well.”

Wilson will get the best coaching either way, if he’s under Jeremy Pruitt or Tosh Lupoi. The important thing is locating the best possible scenario to give him more reps on defense.

Stephen M. Smith is a managing editor and senior writer foTouchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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