Countdown to kickoff: 42

From now until kickoff in Arlington, Texas, we'll be counting down the days before Alabama and Michigan get the season started. Today, we move to No. 42 and what it means to UA football. See all the previous editions here.

If the University of Alabama defense is to maintain its top-dog status this season, a few players will have to step up and grow into larger roles. One such player is No. 42 Adrian Hubbard.

Hubbard, a 6-foot-6, 248-pound linebacker, jumped onto the scene this spring, drawing the consistent praise of the coaching staff and taking home the A-Day award for the best lineman for his three-sack performance. His ability to get around the edge and disrupt the quarterback could be a major boon to a defense adjusting to the loss of several players to the NFL.

"Adrian is a really good pass-rusher," nose tackle Jesse Williams said after the A-Day scrimmage. "He's really elusive. He shakes dudes down off the edge and stuff like that. I feel more comfortable when I'm rushing outside him because he's going to keep it contained."

Right now, Hubbard is a potential starter at either the Jack or Sam linebackers positions. His pass-rushing skills aren't in question, but his ability in coverage and run support could determine where he plays when the season gets underway. Either way, the Georgia native will be a valuable tool to disrupt the quarterback. A player with his size, strength and wingspan is a rare find, and in speaking with Saban it's clear there are plans in place to utilize his skills this season.