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January 18, 2012

Up and coming: Adrian Hubbard

Look at the University of Alabama football depth chart for the Bowl Championship Series national title game, and you'll find Adrian Hubbard listed as the backup at the Jack and Sam linebacker positions.

Look a little closer and you'll see he was also in the mix as a backup at the middle linebacker position.

The 6-foot-6, 237-pound linebacker spent time backing up three positions in 2011 as a redshirt freshman, contributing to the Crimson Tide's BCS national championship run. Going into 2012, Hubbard will compete for a starting position vacated by either Courtney Upshaw, Jerrell Harris or Dont'a Hightower.

"I'm a hybrid," Hubbard said a few days before the national title game in New Orleans. "I work hard, so it could be any one of those three.
"I'm just an athlete. I do what's needed."

The lean, fast defender from Lawrenceville, Ga., played in nine games and made as many tackles in 2011. He also was in on 1.5 tackles for loss and had a quarterback hurry. He played in the national title game, but didn't make a tackle.

His most memorable moment?

"Everybody knows it was Arkansas, that hit on the Wilson kid," Hubbard said.
That hit came on a play that resulted in a touchdown for the opposing team, when he blasted Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson as he released a pass.

Hubbard's position coach at Alabama was former UA assistant Sal Sunseri, who has since left to take the defensive coordinator role at Tennessee. Sunseri said Hubbard's taller, leaner build makes proper technique more of a challenge.

"The problem with someone who is that long and that size is getting him to bend all the time," Sunseri said in the days before the BCS title game. "In basketball you can stand more erect. It's not natural for him to get into a football position and play with great knee bend. So to get him to consistently bend, strike and get the separation you want, it's tough."

Upshaw believes there will be more big hits in Hubbard's future.

"He's going to be a dominant player here, guarantee it," Upshaw said. "Explosive, speed, power - everything. Little skinny guy, but he's got a whole lot of power. Hubbard knows he needs to continue to improve."

Sunseri agrees Hubbard has the right physical tools.

"It looks bright," he said, when asked about Hubbard's potential. "It looks very bright."

"When you're a freshman you just try to work on like knowing the system and knowing things," Hubbard added. "It's just progress.
"It's hard to break in. If you're in a dire need (position) then they're probably going to put you in, but I'm playing behind great players like Courtney Upshaw, Dont'a Hightower and Jerrell Harris, so it's always good to play behind warriors and learn the warrior mentality."

Hubbard stands out so far as a pass-rush specialist, but he wants to become more well-rounded going into spring practice.

"I'm looking to improve on learning coverages more," he said. "I'm getting there. I've always had the pass-rushing skills, it's just more a matter of executing."

Reach Tommy Deas at tommy.deas@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0224.

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