Saban's defenses, though, have evolved from year to year, and that probably works to Hubbard's advantage if he ends up winning the job at Sam. After Friday's scrimmage, Saban put Hubbard in an exclusive group of defensive playmakers that he'd like to see expand before September. "You're always looking for playmaker-type guys on defense. You never feel like you have enough on defense," Saban said. "I think we were very fortunate last year to have a significant amount of guys that were that way. Right now, we're probably a little bit thin in terms of edge rush guys. Both Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson have done a nice job there, but we need to develop some other guys there. "We don't have the same kind of big linebackers who can do both -- play linebacker and be rushers, other than those two guys. We probably need to develop some other guys there."
For many dual athletes like Hubbard and Vogler, playing basketball can help with skills on the football field. Both sports require balance, strength and speed. "Basketball is just like football and vice versa," Hubbard said. "It’s just weight distribution. If a guy’s going one way, you’re going to try and beat him the other way." Both players were highly recruited in basketball and football coming out of high school. Hubbard said he had offers from schools in the SEC, ACC and PAC-12 to play basketball. He was even recruited by Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant when he coached at VCU. Hubbard said it was a difficult choice, but in the end decided he wanted to play football. "It was tough," he said. "But growing up, being a man, you have choices to make. A man has to be accountable for his choices, and I just went one way and decided that’s the way I was going to go."
Even though Jones is Alabama’s most decorated tackle, he was the most logical candidate to change positions. Guards Anthony Steen and Chance Warmack are back, along with right tackle D.J. Fluker. "This is really my first year to have the reigns," Jones said. "It’s a really big adjustment. Not being off the ball is probably the biggest adjustment for you. The guy is just right there, probably not 2 inches from your hands, especially when you’re playing our 3-4 [defense]. It’s a big adjustment, but it’s gone well and I think I’m progressing well. Hopefully, I’ll have a big year." McCarron said the transition hasn’t been perfect during spring practice, but Jones is growing into his new position. "I ride Barrett harder than anybody," McCarron said. "He’s learning. He’s never done it before. He gets mad sometimes if things aren’t perfect, but there are going to be some speed bumps along the way. He’s gotten a lot better since we started. Knowing him, he’s going to continue to get better. I’m not worried about him at all."
Barrett Jones just can't get away from them. The University of Alabama offensive lineman is well on his way to starting at his third different position in three years this fall, and in practice, he's found himself blocking the Crimson Tide's elite defensive linemen at each stop. Three years ago, when Jones began his career as a starter at right guard, it was 360-pound nose guard Terrence Cody. An All-Southeastern Conference talent who was later picked in the second round of the NFL Draft, Cody sheer size gave Jones a practice challenge unlike any he has seen since. Things didn't get much easier after Cody left -- Jones then got his practice fill of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who was a first-round choice of the Buffalo Bills. Then last year, Jones moved to left tackle, where he spent the year trying to pass block against another future first-round pick: Courtney Upshaw. And now, having moved to center, Jones is squaring off with 325-pound nose guard Jesse Williams, who himself has moved over from defensive end. "You put that whole line together, it's a pretty good front four," Jones said. "It's making me better, though."
The rise of Belue, who could also return punts, is huge for a unit that led the nation in most pass defense categories in 2011. Senior Robert Lester will be the anchor of the defensive backfield at one of the safety spots, with sophomores Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri competing for the other safety spot. But there's room on the depth chart for junior-college transfer Travell Dixon and Dee Milliner to move up, claim spots in the rotation and put more pressure on Belue for a starting job at corner.
Going to the Bowl Championship Series national title game cost the University of Alabama nearly $2 million, according to an accounting of UA bowl-related expenses obtained by Tidesports.com under an open-records request. Alabama spent more than $3.9 million on the bowl game in New Orleans for the Jan. 9 BCS National Championship Game against LSU. That cost was offset by a $1.925 million payout by the bowl to each of the participating schools for expenses. UA also received $200 per mile, one-way, as a travel dispensation allocated by the SEC Executive Committee, adding about $58,000 to offset expenses. The full BCS bowl payout for Alabama and LSU making the BCS title game was $28.4 million, which included the $1.925 million allotted to each school for expenses under SEC by-laws. The remaining $24.55 million is split 13 ways, with each of the 12 SEC schools and the league office receiving an equal share of $1,888,461.50 as part of the league's total shared revenue for the 2011-12 academic year.
Alabama's search for an elite quarterback in the 2013 class has been well-documented already, and the Tide will be hosting some of the top prospects in the nation at that position during A-Day. North Carolina signal-caller Riley Ferguson has seen his stock steadily climb this spring and will also be visiting the Tide for a camp this summer while fellow North Carolinian Connor Mitch has been among the Tide's top targets from early on. Ohio star Mitch Trubisky, a dual-threat quarterback who could provide an interesting and unique option for the Tide, will also be in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
Alabama sophomore pitcher/designated player Jackie Traina (Naples, Fla.) and junior outfielder Kayla Braud (Eugene, Ore.) were named Top 25 finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced on Wednesday. It is the third year in a row that Braud has been named a top 25 finalist and a career first for Traina. Braud leads the team with a .385 average, 42 hits and seven doubles while ranking second on the squad with 35 runs score and 25 stolen bases. Traina has proved to be one of the top pitchers in the country as she enters the weekend with an unblemished 23-0 record. She set a school record by recording 25 straight decisions with taking a loss. The right-hander sports a 1.21 ERA and has struck out 195 in 145 innings while holding opponents to a paltry .168 batting average.
UA now has three scholarships available for the late signing period, which begins today. "We are actively recruiting and we will continue to see what's available to help our team," Grant said. "We are not going to take any option off the table. "Hopefully, we will continue putting this team into the position where it has the opportunity to win championships."
Ohio State managed to replace a national championship coach with a .810 winning percentage (Tressel) with a two-time BCS champ boasting a .813 mark (Meyer). Is it realistic to think that Arkansas can find another coach with the equivalent of Petrino's two BCS bowls and 75-26 record (.743) he amassed at two major-conference schools?
Former Auburn running back Mike Dyer testified Wednesday that his gun was used in an alleged armed robbery involving four former Auburn players in March 2011. Dyer testified that he met with Goodwin and co-defendants Dakota Mosley and Shaun Kitchens at a party at DeAngelo Benton's house the night of the alleged robbery. The players had gathered to watch a Los Angeles Lakers game and were drinking beer and smoking "spice," a name for synthetic marijuana that was legal in Alabama until last October. Dyer testified that the group spoke of "hitting a lick," slang for committing a robbery. He said Mosley initially approached him for his gun, but Dyer did not give it to him. "Dakota asked me if I wanted to hit a lick," Dyer said. "I said no." Dyer testified that he smoked spice "consistently" during his Auburn career, and that he found it "way stronger" than regular marijuana. "With marijuana, you could be high and be OK, just hungry," Dyer said.
Nerlens Noel, the No. 1 recruit in the ESPNU 100, committed to Kentucky over Georgetown and Syracuse on ESPNU's "Signing Day Special" on Wednesday night. "It was the toughest decision of my entire life," the 6-foot-10 center from Everett, Mass., said. "Georgetown and Syracuse are great programs."
In his first speaking engagement with his Big Ten coaching peers, new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had to defend what he did in his last coaching job. Meyer said he was disappointed by a story this week in the Sporting News which said he showed favoritism to star players during his six-year tenure at Florida and that his Gators program winked at disciplinary problems. "When you start saying preferential treatment to players, that's probably a correct statement. We did do that. We do that here. We did it at Bowling Green and Utah," said Meyer, mentioning his previous coaching stops while speaking Wednesday on the Big Ten coaches spring teleconference. "If you go to class, you're a warrior, you do things the right way off and on the field, and you're completely committed to helping us win, you're going to get treated really good."