Last year was frustrating. This year was maddening.
It was one thing to be sidelined with a major injury. It was another to be back, but not be his old self, dealing with constant pain and uncertainty.
“It was something I had to persevere through. I never had to go through a whole season feeling like that,” Alabama inside linebacker Dylan Moses said this week over Zoom, as the Crimson Tide prepared for Monday night’s national championship game against Ohio State in Miami Gardens, Fla. “It was new for me.”
Moses missed all of last season with a torn ACL he suffered in training camp. He returned this year with sky-high hopes as a preseason All-American, but couldn’t recapture his previous form as a Butkus Award finalist.
The knee didn’t feel right. His play suffered. He dealt with criticism and questions despite the Crimson Tide’s undefeated season entering the national championship game. He even thought of quitting at one point, Moses revealed in an Instagram post.
Coach Nick Saban isn’t surprised Moses’ play suffered after the injury. Sometimes it takes players a full year following a major injury, he said. But there’s no doubt in his mind Moses has helped Alabama this year. He’s a leader and the defense’s signal-caller, someone teammates look up to. He still led the team with 74 tackles and added 6.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, earning All-SEC first team honors.
“I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that when Dylan Moses plays for us, he makes everybody around him play better,” Saban said.
Moses has yet to decide what he will do next year, whether he plans to return for his final year of eligibility or go pro. His focus is on Monday night. His last trip there, two years ago, was a blowout defeat to Clemson. As a freshman the year before, he was injured for the Crimson Tide’s overtime win over Georgia in the title game.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs, but at the same time, that’s life,” Moses said. “Everything is not going to be picture perfect, but it’s blessings within everything.
“This was something that I was looking forward to, knowing I would come back. Being here and being able to be part of this historic team, it means a lot to me.”