News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Sen’Derrick Marks had four tackles against Arkansas and helped force star tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones to run inside.
AP photo by Todd Van Emst
Sen’Derrick Marks had four tackles against Arkansas and helped force star tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones to run inside.

Knoxville native Huber gladly sheds UT orange for Tide crimson

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — After Baron Huber signed his letter of intent to go to Alabama, his family hosted a yard sale.

The Hubers, who hail from Knoxville, sold off all their Tennessee apparel, much to the chagrin of their friends and one family member — an uncle of Baron's.

On Saturday, when Tennessee (4-2, 2-1 SEC) plays at Alabama (5-2, 3-1), Huber's parents, Kevin and Joanna, will dress in crimson and cheer on their son, who has seen his role in the Tide's offense increase this year.

"They love Alabama. They'll always be Alabama fans now," said Huber a 6-foot-3, 242-pound sophomore fullback.

"It wasn't very hard for them to become Alabama fans."

Huber's father sold cokes as a child at Neyland Stadium and graduated from Tennessee, and Huber said he "grew up hating Alabama."

Baron said that when he was a child, he and his family were not "die-hard" Tennessee fans.

They went to just a few games when he was younger. The first time Huber went to an Alabama-Tennessee game was in 2002 when the Tide won 34-14

"I was so mad. I was like, 'I can't believe we lost to Alabama,' " Huber said. "Now I can't wait to beat them."

According to Huber, Tennessee barely recruited him. The Vols showed passing interest, but not the same kind Alabama did. When then-Tide coach Mike Shula came to Huber's high school, most of the teachers and the students decked themselves in Tennessee orange.

And when Huber signed his letter of intent, the principal of his high school jokingly placed a Tennessee cover over the desk, so Huber signed over the words "Go Big Orange."

"I heard Rocky Top all the time," Huber said. "It became sort of a fun little rival at the school."

In some ways, Huber was prepared to go to Alabama when he transferred from Central High to Powell after his junior year — his first time to wear the colors of a former rival. But it was easier for Huber to join the Crimson Tide, because unlike his family and friends, he doesn't have to hear about it from Tennessee fans in Vol country.

"There was a lot more involved when I was at home staying in the same city," Huber said. "Now, at least I can get out once in a while. My parents have to deal with it up there."

In high school, Huber played mostly linebacker. He was inserted at fullback only for short yardage situations. But since he came to Alabama, he has played nothing but fullback. According to Huber, his father told him that he fit the profile better at a fullback, something Huber still disputes.

"I always had a defensive mentality," Huber said. "I've always kind of been the hunter, not the hunted."

So far this season, Huber has been more of the hunter ... as a blocker. In Alabama's offensive scheme, the fullback doesn't have much of a role other than blocking for running backs. His lone reception this season came in Alabama's victory over Western Carolina, and he has zero carries.

"We don't have a check to him, but maybe we'll see what we can do," Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson joked.

At Ole Miss last Saturday, Alabama used Huber in the backfield more as part of its two-back offense. So, will Huber be able to get a few carries against the Vols?

"It means a little more to me because I am from Knoxville," Huber said.

"This is the kind of game you grow up playing in your backyard, and I guess the difference now is I am Alabama instead of being Tennessee when I was a kid. I'm happy to be on the right side this time."

Tennessee at Alabama

11:30 a.m.

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