Alabama is hopeful to have Jaylen Moody (kidney) back at weakside linebacker this week.
The senior did not dress out or play versus Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Coach Nick Saban wants everyone in for the Tennessee matchup, but he has been pleased with a young player if Moody cannot go. Deontae Lawson, a redshirt freshman, pushed Moody throughout preseason camp. He nearly took a starting job from the veteran, but Moody edged out Lawson.
As a native of Mobile, Ala., Lawson has impressed Saban with his performances.
He started the matchup against Texas A&M, totaling five tackles in a 24-20 victory for the Tide. Lawson made some huge tackles of Aggies’ running back Devon Achane — limiting him to 62 yards rushing on 16 carries. He is eighth on the team for total tackles (22) and has a pass breakup. The former four-star plays with quickness, elite tackling skills, instincts, leverage, and vision to attack the ball. Saban documented Lawson’s growth to reporters, but he spoke more about how Lawson takes the game seriously.
“We have been playing him all year long,” Saban said about Lawson. “I thought he played fairly well in the game this past week. We have a lot of confidence in him. He’s a great competitor. He’s smart, he understands what he’s supposed to do, he can run, and he’s a good athlete. I have been pleased with his progress. He played a good game for it to be his first start, and he played the whole game. He did a good job.”
Henry To’oto’o, a senior middle linebacker, leads Alabama with 39 total tackles.
He sees Lawson as the Crimson Tide’s future at linebacker.
“Deontae Lawson and I have been super close since we got here,” To’oto’o said. “I’ve spent so much time with him. I have taken him under my wing, and I see the potential in him. He can carry on the legacy of linebackers at Alabama after Jaylen Moody and I leave. He’s got a great future because he’s so physical, smart, and instinctive. He has been a huge part of the defense this year.”
If Moody does not return for Saturday, Lawson will make his second straight start.
Tennessee has an explosive offense, but Lawson is prepared to combat it if he has to start.
*Get the BEST Alabama football insider information, message board access, and recruiting coverage today! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our subscriber-only content!*