As Nick Saban prepares to lead the Alabama Crimson Tide in their attempt at a third straight BCS National Championship, you can be sure that their efforts will be led by their elite defense once again. The Tide defense is always one of the best units year in and year out under Saban, and next year’s group could be even better than the one that won the program the national title last year. One of the main reasons for that improvement will be the development of outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard.
The 6-foot-6, 248-pound Hubbard burst onto the scene as a sophomore last season and led the team with seven sacks. He added 41 total tackles, including a team-high 11 for loss, with four quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles. He displayed the raw athleticism to be a terror off the edge in Alabama’s 3-4 defense, constantly disrupting offenses in the backfield. He was given the opportunity and showed he had the skills to be one of the elite pass rushers in the SEC.
But as good as he was, Hubbard has immense room to improve during his junior season. Saban is pushing the outside rusher to use his tremendous speed more consistently to get into the backfield even more frequently. He’s a prospect that already has NFL scouts salivating about, but a more consistent drive to get to the quarterback could turn him into one of the best defensive players in the country in 2013 and an early selection in the 2014 NFL Draft (if he declares early).
Hubbard was a pivotal part of the Alabama defense carrying the Tide to their third national title in four years, but he was just scratching the surface of what he can do in this defense. With another year of experience and an improved approach to his technique, he will develop into an unstoppable terror in the SEC and a can’t-miss prospect at the next level.