The three Crimson Tide players who attended SEC Football Media Days 2019 are more interested in what the team can accomplish this year than they are in looking back on the loss to Clemson in the national championship game to end the season earlier this year.
That doesn’t mean they’re not learning from the loss.
A healthy Tua Tagovailoa, a more experienced Dylan Moses and an unsatisfied Jerry Jeudy weighed in on what awaits the Tide in the new season.
Get ready for a 100% healthy Tagovailoa
One of the biggest questions for Crimson Tide quarterback Tagovailoa going into the offseason was his health and fitness. After suffering injuries last season, Tagovailoa feels better than ever.
“I stayed off my legs as much as possible,” he said. “Of course, you’re going to gain weight and whatnot, but it was very important to me to get back into shape. I feel better than, probably, since I’ve got to the University of Alabama. I’m at 100%. Thank you, guys, for caring for me.”
He and Tide strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran have made some modifications to Tagovailoa’s workouts.
“We’re doing things a little different,” Tagovailoa said. “The next step for me is getting into the training room, whether I’m hurting or not. If you don’t get a tuneup for your car, it’s not going to work the same as it did when you drove it off the lot.”
The Crimson Tide has had amazing success with Tagovailoa, despite the loss to Clemson.
“We just didn’t finish the way we were supposed to finish,” Tagovailoa said.
“I think it’s good to both get the opportunity to win and have the opportunity to lose as well,” he continued. “I know this sounds bad, but I’m glad I had that opportunity to feel loss like that. What can you learn from winning? You can’t learn as much. When you lose, you start appreciating things a lot more and with a different perspective. Many lessons have been learned.”
Moving forward as a leader of the team, Tagovailoa talked about the philosophy moving forward into next season. “Our mantra now for our guys that we have as a leadership group is to ‘Never Be Satisfied,’” Tagovailoa said. “It’s the way to go for us. We have to keep going until we get what we want.”
One of the emerging leaders alongside Tagovailoa is linebacker Dylan Moses. “I can tell you one thing that Dylan has gotten really, really good at is being a leader for the defense, you know?” Tagovailoa said. “Dylan’s not a person that talks as much but him being able to come out of his comfort zone, his shell, being able to be open with guys, build a relationship with guys on the defense as well as the offense guys on the team, is what earns him respect from all these guys who want to listen to him.”
Moses grows into defensive leadership role
Moses is one of the team’s emerging leaders.
“I’m happy to be where I’m at right now,” he said. “I’m happy to be a leader for the defense, I’m happy to have guys depending upon me to lead them because I want to lead them. I want to be a great leader for them.”
Moses was asked about the difficulty of moving from home in Louisiana to Tuscaloosa.
“It wasn’t really that difficult,” he said. “My senior year I went to IMG Academy (Florida), so I had that experience of leaving home and having, just like, that pressure taken off of me. I was comfortable with leaving home after going to IMG, I was like ‘OK, I can do this.’”
Moses is a go-to contact for other athletes from Louisiana who are about to experience a big move, and he enjoys giving advice.
“I’m happy I was able to do that for a lot of guys and still to this day I have guys reaching out to me, trying to get advice from me on how I did it,” he said.
Moses has nothing but praise for the defensive unit the Tide will field this year, saying it is full of “very hardworking guys who are on the same page with each other. They’re very athletic, strong. Just having all those guys on the same team is a blessing.”
Moses’ policy is like others on the team: finishing strong. “I don’t want to leave the field. I’m very motivated. I don’t want to leave the field.”
Jeudy looks to add his name to Crimson Tide history
Jeudy is seen by many as the next great receiver in Alabama football. A confident Jeudy is motivated to be a part of “the best team to come through Alabama.”
“Working day by day, working on the little things, the fundamentals, things like that. I want to better myself as a player,” Jeudy said about the offseason work he’s put in.
That work is necessary to be that next legendary wideout, he said.
“When I got out of high school it was Calvin Ridley. When I was in high school it was Amari Cooper,” Jeudy said. “Now I like watching a lot of receivers in the NFL. I like taking things from other receivers and adding it to my game. It’s just a blessing being compared to those guys. It’s a great group of guys that came through Alabama who created a legacy for themselves and created a path for other young wide receivers at Alabama.”
The loss to Clemson showed Jeudy and the team what can happen if they don’t bring their best efforts for an entire game.
“Clemson took advantage of every opportunity they had to do so,” he said. “We just had to secure our plays better and play a better game, but we didn’t. My goal for this season is finishing the year strong and everybody finishing healthy – go back to the national championship, go undefeated, being a better team than we were last year.”
Finding the motivation to finish the season strong comes down to leadership, Jeudy said.
“We’ve got a lot of leaders on the team helping us with that. It’s very good to have leaders on the team to help motivate guys instead of the coaches. When you have coaches and leaders on the team who do that, it really motivates the team to try and be the best team possible.”
As unsatisfied as Jeudy is with how last season ended, he is excited to play a role in the next Alabama team to build on the modern dynasty.
“It’s a great team, a great coaching staff,” he said of this year’s team. “Just me being a part of Alabama means a lot. Twenty or 30 years from now you want to bring your kids back to Alabama to show them all the rings you won, the accolades, who was on the team, the type of players we had and stuff like that. It’s great playing for Alabama.”