Nick Bolton and Dylan Moses are the players to watch when #2 Alabama takes on Mizzou this Saturday
Any game that Alabama plays in features top tier players and Mizzou has been great in developing and having star defensive players of their own. This year is no different with Alabama and Mizzou having an All-American linebacker on their given rosters. Nick Bolton is by far the best player for the Tigers and one of the leaders on a veteran team, and the same is said for Dylan Moses and the impact that he brings for the Crimson Tide.
Dylan Moses has been a household name in college football since he was still in middle school. Moses was offered a scholarship from Alabama and LSU while he was in the eighth grade. These offers obviously put a lot of attention and hype on Moses’ name, and Moses has lived up and surpassed expectations at his time at Alabama. As a true freshman Moses was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
The outstanding play by Moses continued into the next season with Moses recording a team-high 86 tackles and posted 3.5 sacks. Moses’ play was recognized during his sophomore campaign which landed him All-SEC second team, and a finalist for the Butkus Award, which is presented to the nation’s top linebacker. Last year, Moses suffered a season-ending injury before the season started which sidelined him for his junior campaign. There was a lot of belief that Moses would rehab and prepare for the draft 2020 draft, but Moses shocked the college football world and decided to come back for his senior year.
Freakish athleticism, elite awareness, and exceptional tackling ability are the main reasons why Moses is a projected first-round pick. According to Saturday Down South, Dylan Moses posted a 4.46 40 time in the 2018 fall camp. The number is slightly outdated, but the fact that Moses was able to run that time illustrated how much of a freak athlete that he is. The elite speed that Moses possesses allows him to have terrific sideline to sideline speed and gives him the ability to hawk down opposing receivers and running backs. Moses has elite size standing at 6’3, 235 pounds. This elite frame allows Moses to be a great run stopper.
Nick Bolton is the complete opposite of Moses. Bolton wasn’t offered a scholarship by top tier programs in the eighth grade and didn’t have any hype or major expectations when he enrolled at Mizzou. 247Sports ranked the linebacker from Frisco, Texas the 1,114 overall player and the 39th best linebacker in the 2018 class. Moses on the other hand was ranked the 13th overall player and the 2nd best linebacker in the 2017 class by 247Sports.
Bolton quickly proved that he deserved more recognition as he excelled early on for the Tigers. As a true freshman Bolton appeared and played a key role in 13 games. Ironically Bolton had the best game of his freshman campaign against Alabama, in which he had a season-high 8 tackles. Last season Bolton had one of the best defensive years for a Mizzou defender ever. Bolton had 107 total tackles, 2 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), and a sack in 2019. Every game featured a big play from Bolton in which he either laid out an opposing receiver or running back, or a clutch play in crunch time to help lift Mizzou.
The historic year by Bolton landed him recognition within the conference and across the country. Pro Football Focus named Bolton Third-team All-American. The AP and the coaches voted Bolton First Team All-SEC. Going into his junior year, there is a ton of hype around Bolton’s name that wasn’t present coming into his freshman year. Bolton has already been put on the 2020 Butkus Award Watch List and the 2020 Nagurski Trophy Watch List.
Bolton like Moses is a very intelligent football player. There is rarely a time where Bolton is not where he shouldn’t be at. Bolton has a great knack for knowing where to be and identifying what the opposing offense is trying to do. Bolton was absolutely terrific in coverage last season. Playing as a weak-side linebacker, Bolton is expected to drop back in coverage on a lot of plays. The coverage by Bolton last season was elite which led him to have 10 passes deflected, along with the interceptions mentioned earlier.
Bolton and Moses are both athletic linebackers that are constantly making highlight plays throughout the game. The two have separated themselves from the rest of the pack by blending their NFL-caliber talent with NFL-caliber intelligence for a linebacker. These linebackers are the faces of their given defenses and both are the most important part of their defenses. These two will play a huge part this upcoming Saturday on how well their teams perform. Bolton has a lot more on his plate because he isn’t surrounded by as much NFL-caliber talent around him, but the Tigers are expected to have one of the better defenses in the country.
According to Walter Football, Dylan Moses is projected to go #21 in first found to Las Vegas, while Bolton is projected to go #47 in the second round to the Denver Broncos. With a stellar play that is expected from both this season, there is a great chance that both of these stud linebackers are hearing their names called in the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft.