C.J. Mosley leads the team in tackles. (AP photo by Jeff Roberson)
This is my story for today’s print editions:
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Ask Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley about the last time the Crimson Tide played LSU, and he will say he has mostly good memories. Mostly.
Alabama beat the Bengal Tigers 21-0 in January in the BCS National Championship Game, but midway through the third quarter, Mosley was sprawled on the Louisiana Superdome turf, uncertain if his career would continue.
Mosley dislocated his hip while getting tackled by LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson while returning an interception. Even before he was examined, he figured that might be the case because he had dislocated his elbow earlier in the year, and the feeling was similar.
“It was a great win. Things happen,” Mosley said. “You can’t prevent that. It was just a freak accident. But overall, we won the game and I was happy for the team and I was happy for the way I played.”
Mosley smiled this week as he said that, but at the time, it looked like a career-changing play. The television replay isn’t as gruesome as the one involving South Carolina Marcus Lattimore, who dislocated his knee this past weekend. But after it happened, as cameras showed Mosley lying on his side, his right leg appeared to be at an odd angle.
“At that time … I was like, ‘What’s going to happen?’ But once I found out what was wrong and found out how long rehab was going to be, I got my mind right and just got into rehab and got right back on the field,” Mosley said.
After an MRI exam, Mosley was told he wouldn’t need surgery and that rehabilitation would help him heal. Mosley said that took only about a month of rehabilitation work. Even getting the hip back into the socket wasn’t complicated — that was done on the field, before Mosley was taken off on a cart.
“Overall, the rehab time wasn’t long,” he said. “But day-by-day it kind of seemed like it. But I was lucky enough and blessed enough to get back on the field and do what I’m doing now.”
He said the only effect from the injury he still feels is a small loss of motion on his leg, but that hasn’t seemed to slow him down this year.
After the injury and his recovery time, the Tide junior has turned into Alabama’s most consistent player on defense.
He has 65 tackles, which is 29 more than safety Vinnie Sunseri, who is in second place. Last year, with the struggles with the elbow, Mosley had 37 stops.
Maybe a better indication of his value to the Tide defense isn’t the tackles. Instead, look at the player awards the Tide coaches give out each Sunday after a game. They usually honor two or three players each for offense, defense and special teams.
Mosley has seven awards, which is three more than anyone else on the team. The only time he wasn’t a player of the game was after the Tide’s 44-13 win over Tennessee. Even in that one, he had a team-high seven tackles and an interception.
“He’s more confident with everything he’s doing,” said Tide senior Nico Johnson, Mosley’s friend and fellow inside linebacker. “He’s having fun. I think his first couple years, he was more worried about the results. Now he’s just having fun and flying around, not worried about making a mistake. He’s able to accept, if I failed, it’s OK, I’ll put that play behind me and go on to the next one. That’s why he’s able to play at the level he’s playing at now.”
And as for those player awards, Mosley can smile about those, too.
When asked last week if he knew his name wasn’t on the list, he said, “Nah. I didn’t know. The only way I find out is when you (reporters) tell me.”
When a reporter joked about demanding a recount, Mosley laughed.
“Nah, it’s all right,” he said.
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