Here’s a look at today’s print story about linebacker Nico Johnson:
TUSCALOOSA — The honors come in piles for Alabama linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower.
A semifinalist for this. A finalist for that.
Then there is Nico Johnson: The other Alabama linebacker who’s quietly leading the team in tackles the past few weeks entering the 6:45 p.m. Saturday trip to Mississippi State. A junior playing alongside Hightower at middle linebacker, Johnson’s 24 tackles during the past three weeks bettered both Hightower (20) and Upshaw (16).
That success, culminating in a career-high 11 stops against LSU, is a matter of opportunity meeting preparation.
Twice in three seasons, injuries to teammates meant a larger piece of the pie for the former consensus five-star recruit from Andalusia.
A run-stopping specialist who plays mostly in the base 3-4 formation, Johnson played nearly all game against smash-mouth LSU in the 9-6 overtime loss Saturday.
Before that, he expanded his reach through the misfortune of another. The elbow injury to fellow middle linebacker C.J. Mosley in the Arkansas game meant action in the nickel packages.
“I got more plays than I usually get, so it worked out for the good,” Johnson said. “But then it didn’t, because we lost.”
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