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Alabama needs another rough rider in its defensive rotation: Insert Jaylen Moody

Jaylen Moody (#42) returns an interception for Alabama versus Miami
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics/ SEC Media Portal

Alabama football has benefitted from the best of four and five-star athletes.

Nick Saban enjoys signing talented players to the Crimson Tide, but the head coach also likes recruiting individuals that push marquee names to work harder. Those guys are usually three stars that people do not expect to have major success; however, they manage to prove them wrong. Defensively, Alabama has carried players with the ‘dog mentality.’

Names such as Vinnie Sunseri, Levi Wallace, Jamey Mosley, Rashard Johnson, Eryk Anders, Christian Barmore, and Tony Brown all had a rough rider mindset.

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These players were not afraid of doing the dirty work on defense. Whether it was making punishing hits, intimidating offensive players, or making clutch plays, Alabama had rough riders that took pride in their roles.

Christian Harris, Henry To’oto’o, Will Anderson Jr., and Drew Sanders are an impressive group of linebackers, but maybe it’s time to add Jaylen Moody into the mix. Moody, a native of Conway, S.C., arrived as a three-star in 2018.

He’s worked his tail off to get to this moment, and the senior knows the defensive system.

Moody emerged in 2020 during the Arkansas game to replace an injured Harris. He collected seven tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder had 18 tackles last year and recorded a good performance on A-Day. He returned a fumble for a score and had the first-team defense affecting Bryce Young in the pocket. Moody was in a position to start at linebacker until To’oto’o came via transfer portal from Tennessee.

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He got his first career interception against Miami, but he was on the field once versus Florida. Moody tackled Florida’s quarterback Emory Jones on the last play of the game.

Alabama escaped “The Swamp” by a score of 31-29. Regardless of not having many schools recruiting him, Moody said nothing else mattered when Alabama offered him.

He plays with intensity in practice and carries high energy in games. Moody knows that everything is earned, and it’s why he plays with an edge to him. His versatility is at middle and weakside linebacker. He can stop the run, cover running backs out the backfield, and possesses lateral quickness. The Tide could have gone to him during To’oto’o’s struggles with Florida’s option attack. Southern Mississippi will have the same scheme this weekend.

A rough rider for Alabama is a player that wants football more than anything else.

Moody is one of those guys and at some point, the Tide needs to have him involved more.

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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.

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