Fairly or unfairly there weren’t many Alabama players headed into the 2020 season with expectations as high as the ones Dylan Moses had. Coming into Tuscaloosa as a five-star middle linebacker and having the hype of being one of the best prospects of the decade since he was in middle school, expectations have been a part of Moses’ entire life.
And sometimes it can be hard to reach these sorts of expectations when the bar just keeps getting higher and higher.
Or when you suffer a potentially career-altering injury.
When Moses tore his ACL just weeks before the start of the 2019 season, the team knew it would take a long time before he was able to be back on the field and even longer for him to feel like his old self again. But following a disappointing output from the team and Moses announcing his return the expectations were as if he was ready to go the second he posted.
However, that was not the case, as Moses’ journey back in 2020 was far from over.
“Just as far as going through pain and stuff throughout the year, the first time I felt like 100 percent myself was the very first game of the season against Missouri, Moses said on Thursday. “After that just all throughout the season, it was just constantly like pain and all that.
“But like I said, it was something I had to persevere through. I never had to go through a whole season feeling like that. It was new for me. But at the same time it wasn’t nothing I couldn’t play through. Like I said, I’m really tough when it comes to dealing with a lot of pain and all that, but at the end of the day, I just wanted to be there for my teammates, make a difference, and be able to make the calls for them.”
Someone else who knows Moses’ pain is tight end Miller Forristall who had suffered a torn ACL back in 2017. He had the same issues of overcoming the pain and having to fight back to his normal self on the football field.
“I had an ACL just like (Dylan) did, and everyone you think comes back and you hear all this, ‘Oh, you’re going to come back bigger, faster, stronger immediately’, and you just don’t all the time,” Forristall said. “I struggled coming back from my ACL a little bit. Took me a while. Honestly, it took me two good years to feel like myself again.”
“Dylan and I have talked on and off a lot about encouragement, man. Sometimes you don’t always feel like you used to, but you can still play better and you can still be better than the player you were. So we talk about that a lot actually as a guy who’s had an ACL and I think I’m old here, so I try and impart the little wisdom I have to these guys that have been here not quite as long as I have.”
Moses’ journey has also been praised by his coaches who urge him on and put him in position every day. Head coach Nick Saban highlighted his perseverance through all of the circumstances he faced.
“Well, we knew going into the season, I mean, previous experience with guys like Dont’a Hightower, who had injuries like this, sometimes it takes these guys a full year to actually get back to 100 percent,” Saban said.
“But Dylan has done an outstanding job and shown a lot of perseverance, leadership on our team, and I’m pleased with the way that he’s played. I’m pleased with the way he’s handled his circumstance, and certainly, he’s made a positive contribution to our team.”
Although this injury would be enough to try and overcome in a season, Moses revealed earlier in the week a personal tragedy that has caused even more disruption in his life.
Last year Moses lost his grandmother to COVID-19 which he shared in a lengthy Instagram post reflecting on this season. Within the post, he said with everything that had happened to him and everything weighing down on him he thought he wanted to quit the game he loved.
But Moses didn’t give up. He pushed on and found his faith in religion and moved forward and is now looking to inspire others with similar issues.
“Like I said, at the end of the day I just really wanted to be there for my teammates,” Moses said. “Like I said, for that post that I made, it wasn’t for me or for anybody to feel like any sympathy towards me.
“It was really for those people out there going through the same thing that I was going through and thinking about giving up and just showing that we’re human. Like everyone who plays football or a professional sport or collegiate sport, we’re all human. We go through the same things.
“So me putting that out there, that was for other kids or other athletes that are going through what I’m going through and showing that they can make it through.”
Now that Moses has embraced his obstacles and come out on the other side with an improved mindset and urge to help others, a big game in the national championship is on the horizon.
And every teammate, coach and fan is right behind Moses to support him in the game and on the rest of his journey.
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77