Hubbard Expected To Replace Upshaw

It's a cliche to say that Alabama Coach Nick Saban reloads rather than rebuilds, but it is not inaccurate to say that Saban has stockpiled some very good players in anticipation of a load of Crimson Tiders heading off to the NFL each year.

What Alabama and Nick Saban are doing on the field is well documented. In the past five years (coincidentally, the number of years Saban has been head coach of the Crimson Tide), Bama has amassed 55 victories. Even the most match-challenged can figure that is 11 victories per season, and it's best in the Southeastern Conference.

Along the way Bama has won two national championships. Among the many stars who will be missing from the Crimson Tide squad that won the 2011 national championship are jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who was Defensive MVP of the BCS National Championship Game as Alabama defeated LSU, 21-0, in the Louisiana Superdome.

Before Sal Sunseri left Alabama as outside linebackers coach to head to Tennessee as defensive coordinator, he was asked about the possible replacement for Upshaw. He said he was looking forward to the play of Adrian Hubbard at that position.

This spring, Hubbard gave a demonstration of what he might bring to the Bama defense when he was named winner of the Dwight Stephenson Award as the top lineman in the A-Day Game.

Hubbard, a 6-6, 248-pound upcoming third year sophomore, had a team-leading seven tackles including four for lost yardage and three quarterback sacks in the spring game. Following the A-Day game, Saban presented awards to various players for their overall spring work. Hubbard was winner of the Woodrow Lowe Linebacker Award. He had won the Ozzie Newsome Most Improved Freshman Award at the end of the 2011 spring drills.

Hubbard is not a surprise. He was a top prospect out of Norcross, Ga., where he was a defensive end. Jack linebacker in Bama's 3-4 system is very close to a defensive end. Hubbard was a four-star who was ranked 20th in the nation at his position by Even as you read this, Saban and his staff are scouring the prep landscape for a young man who will one day replace Hubbard.

Although most project Hubbard as a jack linebacker, it is also possible that he would work at the other outside linebacker position, strongside (Sam). Athleticism is a key component for jack linebacker, and an athletic Sam linebacker can be utilized in the nickel (five defensive backs) and dime (six defensive backs) packages used extensively by Alabama. Hubbard is definitely athletic.

If Hubbard is at Sam linebacker, expect him to be on the field more than was Jerrell Harris, last year's strongside linebacker who was almost always off the field in passing situations.

Hubbard did not play his freshman year as he had to recover from injuries. Last year he played in nine games and had nine tackles and was in on two stops for lost yardage.

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