Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Bama's biggest players making big impact
By Alex Scarborough
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When Brian Vogler, Adrian Hubbard and Barrett Jones are all in a room together, it looks more like a tryout for the Alabama basketball team than a meeting of football players. Each hovers above the press corps with the shortest man standing at 6-foot-5.
Alabama's Barrett Jones is one of the Tide's big men who expect to make a big impact this season.
But throw on a helmet and pads and the look seems to fit.
Jones has developed into one of the nation’s best offensive linemen in his fifth year at the Capstone, taking home the Outland Trophy last year. Now, Hubbard and Vogler are hoping to make a name for themselves as well, each on a different side of the ball.
Vogler has spent the spring flipping between H-back and tight end for offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. It’s the redshirt sophomore’s first real opportunity to make an impact on the offense with the departure of Brad Smelley, and Vogler's not planning on letting it go by. At 6-foot-7, he may be a tad too tall for your typical H-back, but as long as he sees the field, he’ll be happy.
“Whatever looks best, they’ll keep on going with that,” Vogler said of switching back and forth between H-back and tight end. “Honestly, both (spots) feel great right now. ... They’re pretty similar, just a lot more moving around with H-back. I feel comfortable with both of them, so whatever one they choose to put me at will be fine with me.
“You don’t see 6-foot-7, 260-pound H-backs so it’s a little different, a little more difficult trying to get down there with some of the shorter linebackers but it’s bringing new things to the game and teaching me a lot of things about the game."
With his crimson No. 84 jersey pulled over his head, Vogler looks every bit the part of an Alabama tight end. In fact, he bears a striking resemblance to former 6-foot-6 tight end Colin Peek, who transferred to UA from Georgia Tech in 2008 and in 2009 helped lead the Tide to the national championship.
Jones, who played with Peek, said the two tall, lean blocking backs are similar on the field, but the real coincidence is in their physical resemblance.
“They do kind of have a similar build,” Jones said, admitting he’d never really connected the dots before. “The red hair kind of, it's hard to mistake them. But they do have a similar build.”
Hubbard, who is poised to slide in as a starter at linebacker, said it’s a chore trying to cover Vogler. The battle, in fact, goes back to high school where they went head-to-head on the hard court. The two went to schools just two hours apart in Georgia and had plenty of opportunities to test their skills away from the gridiron.
“Me and Vogler have had some good battles, especially in basketball,” Hubbard said. “We played basketball way back in the day. ... I was probably the first person to dunk on him, and then he came back down and threw my shot in the stands.”
As Vogler passed by the conversation with reporters, Hubbard was put on the spot: Who was better at basketball?
After a long pause, Vogler answered for him.
“If it takes you that long to answer...” Vogler said with a knowing grin.
Said Hubbard: “Who was better at which position? That’s the better question to ask.”
Again, Vogler didn’t miss a beat: “If you wanted to play in the post, probably with him. If you want play out with me, knock down some threes, I’ll be hanging out there.”
Trash-talking antics aside, the ability to play basketball has helped both Vogler and Hubbard. Not only does the inherit size create mismatches, but the body control comes in handy as well.
“Basketball is just like football and vice versa,” Hubbard said. “It’s kind of just weight distribution. If a guy’s going one way, you’re going to try and beat him the other way.”
Like Vogler, Hubbard has been alternating between two similar positions during the spring. The redshirt sophomore has flexed between the Sam and Jack positions, and wherever coaches decide, he’s fine with that.
“I’m just playing my position -- wherever they have me at,” Hubbard said.
Talk about this and more on the TideNation message board, The Tusk.