When former Texas A&M receiver Speedy Noil went to the sideline last season after a kickoff return, he pointed to his thigh as the problem.
While coaches were in utter confusion about him not recognizing what actually happened, Noil’s tooth found its new home in the ground.
Of course, the play referred to occurred in Bryant-Denny Stadium with Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson. A freshman then, Wilson idolized Reuben Foster as his big brother. Seeing the first-round pick make clock-cleaning hits inspired the young baller to make his own waves.
He’s put together a quality sophomore year, and though a foot injury tried to deter it, the Montgomery (Ala.) native was 100 percent in Monday’s trilogy against Clemson. Filling in for the injured Shaun Dion Hamilton (knee) and Dylan Moses (foot), Nick Saban turned to Wilson as the starter at inside linebacker.
After frustrations against Deshaun Watson led to defeat in the 2017 national title game, the five-star from Alabama’s 2016 recruiting class took it upon himself to make sure that Kelly Bryant would not have the same success.
His first audition in making calls on defense could not have been scripted any better, especially seeing Wilson total six tackles (four solo), one pass breakup and one interception.
Regardless of ESPN commentator Joe Tessitore not getting his name right until the end, Wilson’s team-high fourth pick resulted in a score as he returned it 18 yards to pay dirt. His efforts on that play extended the Tide’s lead to 24-6 in the third quarter and was ultimately the final score
Aside from the interception, he ran a defense that limited Clemson to 188 yards (124 passing, 64 rushing) and generated five sacks on Bryant.
Behind Wilson, Alabama’s unit was effective on third downs – allowing eight conversions on 19 attempts. Tony Brown had an All-American post-game interview upon Reuben Foster entering the locker room; however, image how lit the conversation would have been if Foster came in on Wilson talking to the media.
Not downplaying Brown’s savvy by no means, but watching the next great linebacker in the making for the Tide put on a show was outstanding. Alabama battles Georgia next week at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for all the marbles, and Wilson is both locked and loaded.