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Linebacker Mack Wilson making his presence felt in Alabama’s dime defense

Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

Few players have the ability to excel so well within a defensive scheme that part of the system in question is named after them. As for Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson, the sophomore came in last season wanting to be a difference maker and now he’s reaping benefits under Nick Saban. 

He earned the reputation of being a jaw-dropping headhunter after separating former Texas A&M receiver Speedy Noil from his tooth, but this season he’s taken on a bigger role in having a critical spot on defense.

Mack Wilson Highlights 2016-17 Alabama LB | ᴴᴰ

Wilson, a native of Montgomery, Ala., has been worked in the Crimson Tide’s dime package, to a tune of 21 tackles, three quarterback hurries and three interceptions. His latest pick came against Tennessee on last week, which denied the Volunteers an offensive touchdown for a third consecutive game. 

Despite the team enduring a number of injuries, Wilson’s versatility has assisted Alabama to an undefeated year and having one of the nation’s top rushing and scoring defenses.  

While he addressed multiple questions during Tuesday’s presser, one of the things Saban talked about was how well the former five-star linebacker has done all season. 

“I think Mack was the one we had zeroed in to be this dime guy, the dime Mack,” Saban said. 

“But when we lost the players early on, Rashaan and the two outside backers in the Florida State game, we had to move Mack from that position to Buck to take Rashaan’s place. He did that for a few weeks then Rashaan wasn’t 100 percent, so he stayed there for a while.” 

The two outside guys Saban was referring to were Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis. 

Potential wise, the Tide’s defensive front was pegged to create a lot of issues for offenses but when those two went down – changes had to occur along the line. With more young players getting involved and Wilson performing double duty, Alabama has held serve in eight games. 

Last season, Saban had to move Evans to Shaun Dion Hamilton’s spot because of a season-ending knee injury. His efforts against Florida, Washington and Clemson made him indispensable, and in the same breath it’s done that same for Wilson in Evans’ absence. 

“Since we moved him back to Mack and he’s been able to take his repetitions there, he has been very productive,” Saban said. “He’s very athletic, he’s a good blitzer, he’s a good cover guy, and he’s got really good instincts. So, all these things can be helpful to us.” 

Wilson and the Tide are currently on a bye week. Alabama will host LSU next week. 

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

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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