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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
LB Adrian Hubbard named spring surprise

By Edward Aschoff

The readers have once again spoken and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard has been named the SEC's spring surprise for 2012. Hubbard, feel free to gloat about your honor to your peers. We encourage it.

With more than 4,200 votes cast in last week's poll, Hubbard took first by gaining a whopping 38 percent of the vote. This one wasn't even close, really, as LSU safety Craig Loston placed second with 23 percent of the vote.

Hubbard is a pretty good choice by the readers, so I applaud you. He hasn't had much of an opportunity to showcase his stuff on the field, but the coaches believe he will excel with more time at the Jack position. He has the speed to be a solid pass rusher for the Crimson Tide this fall, but he has some pretty big shoes to fill now that Courtney Upshaw is gone.

Few have heard of Hubbard, but he'll get the opportunity to change that once spring practice is over with.

Loston is someone who should take over as the starter at safety opposite Eric Reid. Emphasis on should. He's a player who has been inconsistent with his work habits in the past, so people aren't sure what to expect from him this spring. He has all the athleticism to make Brandon Taylor's departure less of an issue, but he'll have to find the right mindset to go with it if he really wants to make an impact.

Tennessee tackle Antonio Richardson took 17 percent of the vote and I think he's a very interesting player to watch. He only saw time during kicks last year, but with the way Tennessee's line played last year, especially on running plays, Richardson has a shot at a spot. He's a very athletic lineman and won't just sit quietly this spring.

Then you have Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy (12 percent of the vote) and Mississippi State wide receiver Joe Morrow (11 percent). We mostly saw Purifoy on special teams last year, but Muschamp made it known that he has been very impressed with the rising sophomore as a defender. He has tremendous speed and his coverage skills should improve. There will be a real fight for the second corner spot in Gainesville this spring.

And Morrow won't be overlooked either. He redshirted last year, but by the end of the season became almost a human highlight reel at practice. The coaches are excited about his potential and how can help change the offense as the first real deep threat the Bulldogs have had in a while. A host of veterans return, but Morrow should push each of them.