Although it has been 30 years since former Guntersville Wildcat B.B. Hudspeth put on football gear, his athletic feats from the past still continue to make an impression. The former three sport high school and college athlete was featured in a recent issue of BFS Magazine, a publication of Bigger Faster Stronger.
The article focused on B.B.’s accomplishments in speed, strength, and conditioning and included a statement by B.B. in how the company had made a positive impact in his athletic career. It was the highlighted story in the company’s e-mail blast to coaches across the country.
Bigger Faster Stronger, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, was founded by Dr. Greg Shepard, a pioneer in speed, strength, and conditioning. Dr. Shepard was the first strength coach in the NBA, coaching the Utah Jazz for 16 years. Today the company is led by John Rowbotham who continues the company’s 44-year legacy of teaching athletes and coaches proper training, technique and safety for improved performance.
B.B. became familiar with BFS when he transferred to Maryville College in Tennessee and became a member of the Fighting Scots football team.
“I can’t say enough about Bigger Faster Stronger and the positive changes they help deliver to athletes and coaches through expertise, instruction, and resources. Their posters and articles covered our weight room walls and inspired us all to break personal records.”
B.B. is in at least 14 record books, including every high school and college sport he participated in, 8 of them in speed, strength, and conditioning.
As a college athlete, B.B. was rated as an Elite Athlete by Dr. Shepard. At the time of B.B.’s rating, Dr. Shepard had no knowledge of any college football player equaling B.B.’s 100 dips on the parallel bars performed at Maryville College as a senior. 30 years later, Coach Rowbotham states he, too, has no record of any college football player legitimately performing 100 strict consecutive dips. One month after arriving to Samford University as a freshman on a Division I track scholarship, B.B. set Samford’s record with 91 dips during a strength max out session supervised by current University of Miami Hurricanes assistant head football and defensive line coach, Todd Stroud.
When asked what drew his interest in strength and conditioning? B.B. replied, “I really didn’t have much of a choice. I wrestled in the 126 pound weight class at GHS, so I was always one of the smallest players on the team.
Guntersville hasn't offered wrestling in years, but B.B. performed what was once thought of as maybe the fastest pin in school history.
“It was my first year in wrestling, so I thought I would experiment a little and try a football technique at the start of a match against Arab," he said. "As soon as the referee blew the whistle, I form tackled my opponent directly to his back and pinned him seconds later. You never know unless you try, which is a motto I live by.”
What B.B. lacked in size, he made up in speed going all the way back to his early childhood. At age 11 during his first year of organized football in Tarrant City in Birmingham, his coaches quickly recognized his speed and created a special play just for B.B. called ‘98 Reverse.’
They ran the play once a game where B.B. was handed the ball on a reverse.
“I learned my first life lesson through sports that first year from my head football coach, Don Howell, about commitment. His one major rule was not to miss Friday’s practice before Saturday’s game. Friday’s practice was an important opportunity to go over our assignments one final time to ensure we were ready for our opponents the next day. Not realizing the value of that practice, I called in sick to pass football with a neighborhood friend. The second mistake was attending the high school football game that night and running into Coach Howell when I was supposed to be home sick. I never played another down the rest of that season except that one play, ‘98 Reverse.’ I changed then and there and became obsessive about commitment. That lesson has continued to impact me to this day.”
That year, B.B. and his teammates got the opportunity to take a trip to Tuscaloosa to watch the Crimson Tide practice and personally meet and shake hands with Coach Paul Bear Bryant. They would win the 1980 Alabama Youth Football League Championship (AYFL) the next year undefeated.
Wildcat fans who were present at Chorba-Lee Stadium during the 1986 Homecoming game against Athens argue that B.B. might just hold another record.
That record is possibly being hit the hardest of any football player at Chorba-Lee Stadium.
“I’m still asked about that hit. I can say with certainty that the stars were visible that night because I literally saw them while I was horizontal in mid-air," B.B. said.
The hit happened while B.B. was returning a kickoff early in the game between the two unbeaten teams. The player that hit B.B. outweighed him by 60 pounds and was untouched. The impact was so hard that it knocked B.B.’s mouthpiece five yards back, and the play made Harold Bugg’s Friday night high school football show. Two weeks later, B.B. would return one of the longest kickoff returns for a touchdown in Wildcat history.
As a 140 pound senior defensive back at Maryville College, B.B. led the team in passes broken up and finished tied for second on Maryville’s all-time list for most passes broken up in a single season while only playing in seven full games due to an injury. He won the Football Coaches Award, the Strength and Conditioning Outstanding Performer Award, was a powerlifting champion, and was named to the Crawford Hall of Fame for his achievements in speed, strength, and conditioning.
After college, B.B. tried out for the Birmingham Fire of the World Football League, although he was 50 pounds underweight based on his position. “I knew it was a long shot, but it is the message I try to convey to others. Give it a shot. Don’t worry about the obstacles. For the youth, I encourage them to get involved in as many extracurricular activities that they have an interest or talent in. Don’t be afraid. It will make your school years memorable and rewarding.”
Something good did happen at the tryouts. B.B. may have recorded the fastest 60-yard shuttle run out of over 100 players on his first-ever attempt. “I quickly scanned the list the coach was holding and didn’t see any times faster.”
More important than that, by trying, he left with no regrets.