Following Alabama’s 2009 national championship, there was no doubt that linebacker Rolando McClain would forego his final year of Crimson Tide eligibility and enter the NFL draft. There were also rumors that cornerback Kareem Jackson would go pro early, a rumor that had most Bama fans saying, “No way.”
But there was a way. Kareem Jackson decided to leave Alabama with a year to play and was rewarded by being a first round NFL draft choice.
That’s why when following Bama’s latest national championship, one had to consider the possibility that the rumor regarding outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard might be true. Not the rumor that he could join the Crimson Tide basketball team, but the rumor that he was also going to enter the NFL draft early.
As it turns out, it was a false rumor.
Hubbard announced on Friday that he would return for his redshirt junior season to play for the Crimson Tide in 2013. Hubbard actually has two years of eligibility remaining, but would be eligible for the draft this year because of having been redshirted as a first year player in 2010.
“I had a chance to take a step back and weigh my options after the championship game and I felt it was in my best interest to return next season,” said Hubbard. “I feel like I can play a bigger role as a leader on our defense and I also know I need to improve in some areas as a player before I hopefully take the next step to the NFL. One of my goals when I came to The University of Alabama was to earn my degree and I’m on track to graduate next December. This is a great place, I’ve got great teammates and coaches, and I’ll know when it is the right time to move on to the next level.”
Hubbard played in all 14 games during the 2012 season while starting 13. He finished with 41 total tackles, including 11.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks. Hubbard recorded a sack in each of Alabama’s last three games (Auburn, Georgia and Notre Dame). His 7.0 sacks ranked sixth in the SEC this season.
“We are pleased that Adrian is returning and I think that he made a good decision,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said. “Adrian has done a really good job for us and has continued to improve each season he’s been here. He’ll be counted on from not only a production standpoint, but also a leadership standpoint on next year’s team.”
Four Alabama starters from the 2012 national championship season who have eligibility remaining but who could have opted for the draft have announced they are returning for the 2013 season. In addition to Hubbard they are quarterback A.J. McCarron, linebacker C.J. Mosley, and offensive guard Anthony Steen.
Three players who have a year of eligibility remaining announced Friday they would enter the draft. They are cornerback Dee Milliner, tailback Eddie Lacy, and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker.