Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, right, sacks Missouri quarterback Corbin Berkstresser for a 9-yard loss during the first quarter. (AP photo by L.G. Patterson)
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Alabama junior linebacker C.J. Mosley announced today he will return for the 2013 season.
However, he said he made the decision a long time ago. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker said he never thought about heading out early for the NFL and didn’t even contact the NFL advisory board to find out how high he might go in the draft.
“I already knew I was coming back to school,” Mosley said. “But I didn’t want it floating around that I was leaving. It happened that way anyway. I wanted to focus on this season and focus on school. My parents and I already knew I was coming back.”
Mosley said he wants to graduate, which he added he will do next December.
He also wants to earn a spot on the first-team defense. Alabama never has listed him as a starter.
Mosley was on the field for the first defensive snap for eight of the Tide’s 13 games, but that was because of the requirements of whatever defense Alabama needed that particular day.
The Crimson Tide coaches never listed him as a first-team linebacker all year, because his strength is in pass defense, rather than against the run. Sophomore Trey DePriest and senior Nico Johnson hold the two inside linebacker spots.
Not being included on the first team has given Mosley a target to fill the shortcoming on his college football resume. He wants to be an every-down linebacker.
“That was a big hole, a big gap,” he said.
Even without occupying a spot on Alabama’s official starting defense, Mosley played so much he wound up with statistics that match up favorably to celebrated Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, the Heisman Trophy runner up.
Te’o had 103 tackles, which were 42 more than any other Notre Dame player, compared to Mosley’s 99 tackles, which were 43 more the Tide player in second place. Mosley had more tackles for loss (7 to 5.5) and sacks (4 to 1.5), while Te’o had more interceptions (7 to 2) and passes defended (11 to 4).
Alabama coach Nick Saban said he appreciates having Mosley back for more than all those tackles he makes.
“C.J. is really a good person,” Saban said. “I know that he has never been in my office for ever not doing what he’s supposed to do, like missing class, or getting in trouble in the dorm, or not doing something he was responsible for, or being late, I mean not once. Not ever once.”
Saban added Mosley isn’t talkative.
“He’s very quiet,” Saban said. “You don’t even know he’s around until the ball’s snapped, then he shows up big and does what he’s supposed to do.”