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Nick Saban on UA’s Shane Lee, Christian Harris: ‘They have been calling defenses’

Alabama freshman LB Christian Harris (No. 8) at fall camp: Photo by Brian Pride - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Losing a next level player like Dylan Moses hurts, but this 2019 class has Nick Saban willing to gamble on two freshmen this season.  

After news was confirmed on Moses sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) to his knee, Saban said he along with teammates, coaches and support staff members all met with the junior inside linebacker to encourage him. A native of Baton Rouge, La., the former five-star led the Crimson Tide in total tackles (85) in 2018 and posted 10 tackles for loss with 3.5 sacks.  

Despite the pain, Saban knows it’s time to move forward and Duke requires his attention. 

“We love Dylan,” Saban said Wednesday in his opening statement. 

“He had a great camp. He was a great leader. He was a good signal caller on defense.” 

RELATED: WATCH: Nick Saban delivers game week presser for Duke

In the same manner shown by fans of the Indianapolis Colts – upon hearing Andrew Luck’s retirement from the National Football League – some Tide fans took to Twitter expressing disappointment toward Saban choosing to practice Moses three days before the game. 

For the six-time national champion, he views the situation as a “character check” to both Moses and the team in being able to handle adversity.

It is now about supporting the next guys in line and in this case, welcome aboard Shane Lee and Christian Harris. 

Prior to his injury, Moses told yours truly at Southeastern Conference Media Days that both Lee and Harris will be special as long they continue to study film and get stronger.  

Although one (Lee) arrived on campus in January, the fact that both did enough to earn the starting roles at inside linebacker speaks volumes.

When one solely dissects Harris, he came in either late-May or early-June and yet was able to pass up guys such as Markail Benton, Jaylen Moody and Ale Kaho for a spot. Defensive coordinator, Pete Golding has a big chance to prove himself as an elite player developer and schemer, but Saban is sold on the freshmen. 

“They have been calling the defenses,” Saban said of Lee and Harris. 

“They have been giving the signals with the two’s, but now they are going to have to move up and be able to get the communication with the one’s. We have to work with them on that.” 

Lee was the next name in line on Monday’s depth chart, following Moses. 

Both guys are being forced to grow fast, but the duo looks to prove this weekend at Mercedes-Benz Stadium versus Duke that they can handle it.  

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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 @CoachingMSmith.

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 15 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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