Where Are They Now?
Franklin County Times
FLORENCE – The University of North Alabama's Reggie Hubbard and Quin Suggs are no strangers to championship expecations.
That's because both players prepped at Russellville High School – a program that has won four state titles, appeared in three state championship games in the last five years and hasn't lost a region game since 2000.
Hubbard and Suggs played from 2002-04 and helped the Golden Tigers advance to two state championship games and win three Class 5A, Region 8 championships.
Hubbard, a senior, is now a starting receiver for the No. 3 Lions, while Suggs, a sophomore, is a starting cornerback.
"Quin gives us a lot of speed and size – he's rangy and covers a lot of ground. He's got the ability to play (pro football). His brother Santana played for us the last couple of years, and he comes from a long line of college football players," North Alabama football coach Mark Hudspeth said.
"Reggie has been one of our most consistent wide receivers over the past four years. He may not have a lot of big plays but he always grades out the best and gets the job done. He is off to a great start this year, and he is a great kid and a hard worker – I wish I had more like him."
Two other former Franklin County players are also affiliated with UNA this season – Russellville graduate Casey Phillips is a freshman defensive back and Phil Campbell alumnus Brett Borden is a student defensive assistant.
"Russellville has an outstanding program and produces a lot of really good players," Hudspeth said. "We've been fortunate to sign quite a few players from there."
During high school Hubbard and Suggs talked about attending the same college, and Suggs said he made up his mind when Hubbard chose UNA.
"After Coach Hud left Reggie's home, he came to my house," Suggs said. "When I found out Reggie had committed to UNA, I knew I was going there, too."
Hubbard said Hudspeth's recruiting style differs from other college coaches.
"He's a different kind of coach because he has a lot of energy," Hubbard said. "Most coaches wear a school polo shirt on a recruiting visit, but when he came to my house, he was wearing a suit and a (Gulf South Conference) championship ring, and his hair was all done up. He just does a lot of little things differently, and I liked that."
Since Hudspeth's arrival in 2002, the UNA has returned its program to a championsip level with two conference championships and two NCAA semifinal appearances in the past four years.
Both players said Russellville's program helped prepare them for college football.
"We used the same type of spread offense at Russellville, so it helped prepare me for the UNA offense," Hubbard said. "There are a lot of expectations in Russellville, and UNA is the same way. The coaches here make sure we're not satisfied unless we win championships."
Suggs said he learned how to practice during high school.
"I learned to have a good work ethic and practice hard, even though there's more running in college," said Suggs.
Despite all of Russellville's region wins and playoff runs, Hubbard and Suggs share the same most memorable moment from high school.
"The most memorable moment in high school was the practice we had after losing to Deshler in 2003," Hubbard said. "We called it Black Monday – it was a four-hour practice, and you don't forget practices like that."
Suggs said that even though Deshler is a non-region game, it's still a rivalry game.
"You don't want to lose a Deshler game," said Suggs, who went 2-1 against the 4A Tigers. "It is kind of like the the Alabama-Auburn game for us."
Hubbard and Suggs don't visit home on a regular basis during football season, but they both attended Russellville's 30-23 overtime win against J.O. Johnson last Friday and were impressed with the Golden Tigers' ability to fight back.
"They don't give up – I noticed that – and you've got to have to have that to be a championship team," Suggs said. "They've already won two overtime games this season, so they have shown a lot of heart."
Even though they aren't college roommates – Hubbard lives with fellow receiver Jason Messing in a UNA apartment on-campus and Suggs resides in a residence hall – the teammates have been close ever since they playing midget football together.
Suggs described Hubbard as a team leader for UNA.
"Reggie is a leader on the field, but he leads by example. He's not the type to yell at other players," said Suggs, who wants to become a football coach. "And going against him one-on-one in practice every day has made me much better because he is one of the best receivers."
Despite Suggs' praise, Hubbard insisted his teammate could out-run and out-block him, and pointed out that Suggs has the speed to run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds.
"We have been playing football together since we were probably six years old and then all throughout high school," Hubbard said. "I became a better receiver and a better blocker because I had to go up against him in practice. You can't really block him or slow him down – when you look at him, he seems small but then he hits you, and you feel it. And he's not a rah-rah guy on the field, but if you watch him play, you say to yourself, 'That's how you're supposed to do it.'"
Both players want to be able to support their families once their college careers are over, whether it's through playing professional football or joining the workforce.
"I want to know I've made something of myself," Hubbard said. "If I'm able to take care of my parents and myself, then I would consider myself a success."