Football duo brings basketball background to field

  The University of Alabama football team practiced Tuesday afternoon outside Coleman Coliseum./CW|Megan Smith

Tight end Brian Vogler and linebacker Adrian Hubbard are not strangers by any means. The two often find themselves lined up opposite each other in practice, whether they’re in coverage on a passing play or locked up in a blocking battle during a run.

But Vogler and Hubbard have been battling it out long before the two joined the Alabama football team.

“Me and [Vogler] have had some good battles in life, especially in basketball. We played basketball way back in the days,” Hubbard said. “Vogler will tell you, I was probably the first person to dunk on him, but then he came back on and threw my shot in the stands.”

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.”

  The University of Alabama football team practiced Tuesday afternoon outside Coleman Coliseum./CW|Megan Smith

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.”

The choice wasn’t so hard for Vogler.

“It was a tough choice, but when it gets down to it, would you rather dunk on somebody or get the thrill of a touchdown in front of 102,000 people?” he said. “Hopefully if I'm lucky enough to get a touchdown here in my career, I'll say it was a lot better than taking a dunk.”

The two said they still miss the hardwood, however. Both have spoken with Grant, but said there was never a serious discussion about switching sports.

“I talked to him a little when I first got here,” Vogler said. “Sometimes when you're watching the basketball games it does get a little frustrating, but my primary focus when I got here was to play football. So I'm going to keep playing football and worry about basketball when I'm done with this sport.”

There are also potential liabilities to playing basketball, even pickup basketball, for football players. Running back Blake Sims practiced briefly Tuesday, but has missed every practice since spring break when he tweaked his hip playing pickup basketball. Head coach Nick Saban discourages players from playing basketball in their time off.

“I choose not to play pickup in the offseason for reasons like that,” Vogler said. “It’s just too big of a liability to get hurt playing basketball.”

So who’s the better basketball player between the two?

“Who's better at what position? That's what you need to ask,” Hubbard said.

“If you want to play in the post, probably him,” Vogler said of Hubbard. “If you want to play out on the wing, knock down a couple of threes, I'll be hanging out out there.”

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