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A Salute to the 2018 Alabama Seniors: Johnny Dwight

Despite playing in a dying position, Dwight adapted and survived all the way to the end

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Orange Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma
Few people in this world ever have the chance to chase down a diminutive Heisman winner
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Once a fringe 4-star prospect out of Georgia, Johnny Dwight signed in 2014 with Alabama to play nose tackle on a base 3-4 defense with a track record of sending big, two-gapping linemen to the NFL.

At 6’2” 305, he was stout and built low, comparatively, and excelled at plugging up the middle of the line. The 26th ranked defensive tackle in the class, he joined Josh Frazier and OJ Smith as a trio of nose tackle recruits in the same class. He wasn’t afraid of competition.

Dwight redshirted his freshman season, then found himself playing both defensive line and tight end in 2015 with the Tide severely lacking in depth there on offense. Despite his size, Dwight was a nimble enough player to be able to make the transition and provide depth for the Tide throughout the season.

He resumed that same role in 2016, but never saw the field. At this point, the Alabama defense had undergone a transformation that started because of the back-to-back barn-burner games against Johnny Manziel and then the back-to-back losses against the up-tempo spread of Ole Miss. The Tide was transitioning to a defense that relied more on flexible and athletic players rather than complex substitution packages, and the big, space-eating defensive linemen began to see a reduced role.

Dwight stuck it out, though, and changed. He became versatile enough to play both defensive tackle and defensive end, and got some rotational playing time in 2017. He racked up a sack and 4 tackles for loss on the season in a reserve role, including some playing time in the national championship game against Georgia.

OJ Smith transferred out and Josh Frazier graduated, so Dwight was the only remaining member of the trio. His 2018 season was much like his 2017, but he saw action in 11 games, only missing two to injury. He played well in relief throughout the season, often making more of an impact than most casual observers would have expected. Over his career, he totaled 15 tackles, 4.5 for loss, a sack, a pass deflection, and 4 QB hurries. Not a lot, but compiling those stats for the best team in all of college football is a testament to how talented a football player Dwight really is.

So, over the course of his 5 years in Tuscaloosa, Dwight provided valuable practice depth at both defensive line and tight end early on before becoming one of the top rotational relief players along the line over his final two seasons. It’s a college career to be proud of, and one that pretty much every person in the world could never match.

Roll Tide, Johnny.