C.J. will be a 22-year old NFL rookie in 2014. After a stellar prep career at Theodore High School (AL) where he racked up more than 500 total tackles, he was named a Parade, SuperPrep and U.S. Army All-American. He was also a two-time All-State selection and the 6A Lineman of the Year in 2009.
As a true freshman in 2010, he played in all 13 games and registered 67 total tackles while earning Freshman All-SEC and All-American honors. In 2011, he started six of 11 games and recorded 37 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and an interception. He missed the Florida and Vanderbilt contests with a dislocated elbow. During his junior season in 2012, he opened 10 of 14 games, logged 99 total tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 2 interceptions and was recognized as an All-SEC and All-American by numerous publications.
Through nine games in 2013, he has accumulated 71 total tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 5 pass break-ups.
C.J. is a health science major and will graduate in December of this year.
C.J. is a fourth-year senior and two-and a-half season starter as a “box” linebacker for Alabama. No redshirt, he made an immediate impact as a true freshman when he played in the Crimson Tide’s sub package on passing downs. He has since become a consensus All-SEC and All-American performer because of his ability to play on all four downs.
He has a proportioned, athletic build with developed arms and legs and will likely be in the 235-240lb range as a pro. On the field, he has outstanding instincts in reading run/pass and the athletic talent needed to go make a play. As the Tide signal-caller, he handles all of the checks and re-checks that go into making the ‘Bama defense one of the most sophisticated in the country.
Against the run, he has the initial pop in his hips and hands to get off blocks and wrap tackle at the point-of-attack and the rare speed to scrape over the top and accelerate to the perimeter vs. outside runs.
As a pass defender, he has excellent awareness and understands pattern “matching” from all formations. When he blitzes, C.J. can get off the spot with explosion and has the tools to win by going through or around a given blocker. On special teams, he can and will play a prominent role on the kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return units.
For the NFL, he is an ideal Will linebacker in a 4-3 or 3-4 front where he can get some block protection and roam freely to the ball carrier. With modern football evolving to more of a “space” game, C.J. is the perfect linebacker prospect because of his versatility in defending the run and pass and the flexibility his skill set will give a creative defensive coordinator. He checks off all the boxes in terms of speed, toughness and instincts combined with his athleticism, explosive tackling and playing instincts to become a lock first-round pick in May.
WHAT NFL SCOUTS WANT TO SEE IN 2013: C.J. has grown as a leader and improved his approach to confronting downhill runs this season. Most teams will want him as close to 240lbs as possible in the future.
-- Phil Savage, Reese's Senior Bowl Executive Director
2013: Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Colorado State, Ole Miss.
2013: Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU