Chuba Hubbard's First Interview Since Announcing He's Back at Oklahoma State
STILLWATER -- Pokes Report and the media that covers Oklahoma State will get their opportunity to interview Chuba Hubbard on Tuesday when he, wide receiver Tylan Wallace, and head coach Mike Gundy and other Cowboys players stage a pep rally at noon inside the Student Union. This weekend, Hubbard was in New Haven, Ct. as part of the Walter Camp Award and All-American Team banquet and festivities. Hubbard was a unanimous All-American and that meant being first team on the Walter Camp All-American team, probably the most prestigious. He was also a finalist for the Walter Camp Award along with winner Joe Burrow and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.
NFL Radio was there as they are each year to talk primarily to the players heading to the NFL. Hubbard decided to hold off for a year, but the most famous NFL Draft and scouting executive ever and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Gil Brandt was there with Alex Marvez for Sirius-XM NFL Radio and they spent close to 15 minutes talking to Hubbard.
The interview went a lot of different directions and didn't start with the question that most Oklahoma State fans would be most curious about. However, it did not take long for Marvez and Brandt to get to why the red-shirt sophomore that rushed for 2,094-yards to lead the nation averaging just over 161-yards a game and 6.4-yards a carry decided to stay in Stillwater for one more season.
"There are a lot things that factor into it," Hubbard said thoughtful in his answer. "One of the biggest is that I want to get my degree, so for me that's big and my family that is also really big. I want to do that for myself and also them."
We knew that was the case and had heard from a reliable source that despite the picture painted by other media outlets, both of Chuba's parents were backing the decision in order for him to graduate which he is expected to do in December of this year.
There was more to the decision.
"I feel like I can up my game a lot," Hubbard told Brandt, Marvez, and Sirius-XM NFL Radio. "I thought this year was pretty good, but I'm one that doesn't get complacent and I feel I can be better. I'm going to work on bettering myself in certain aspects and hoping for a better season next year."
One of those areas that Pokes Report has already reported on heavily, including the work he has done with now new offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn and how all that could come around to making Hubbard and the Cowboys offense more versatile is Chuba catching the football. He was asked, specifically by Gil Brandt, about catching the ball.
"Yeah, in high school I didn't do it too much," Hubbard said of being involved as a receiver. "I really just ran the ball, but ever since I got to Oklahoma State I remember that is the first thing I worked on, getting on the Jugs machine every day. At first, I would drop the ball and people would laugh at me, but I just kept consistent and working with it and my hands have become significantly better. That is one part of my game that I try to excel in. In my red-shirt freshman year I caught the ball a lot more and this year toward the end I started catching the ball more. That is a part of my game that I think I can get a lot better at, but I'm doing pretty good with it."
The interview started by stressing the opportunities that Hubbard will have by coming back and one of those is becoming the all-time leading rusher in Oklahoma State history. Sanders' single season record of 2,850-yards is not realistic in today's football. However, Thurman Thomas' career record of 5,001-yards is possible. Hubbard would have to top last last season's total. Thomas did it in 47 games played. Hubbard, if he could get there, would do it in a max of 41 games.
Odds are that he doesn't reach Thomas, but climbs into the top three as Terry Miller is second all-time with 4,754-yards and David Thompson is third with 4,318.
"I'm blessed to be in this position. Obviously, this last season was very special and that is a testament to this team and everyone around me," Hubbard said on the satellite radio show on Saturday. "I had a great o-line and, you know, great star players around me that allowed me to break big runs. To even be in the talk with guys like Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas and all those guys is just so special and I'm blessed to be in this position."
Besides discussing Chuba's big decision to come back for his junior season next fall, they also discussed his original decision to leave Canada and play American football in college. It is one that has paid off very well.
"It was definitely a big decision. I mean, it was something that I dreamed of my whole life, and obviously there are a lot of differences and rule changes, but when it is something that you have dreamed of your whole life and you want to achieve that goal then it was, obviously, an easy decision for me," Hubbard expressed in detail. "I had some adjusting to do when I got there. Oklahoma is a lot hotter and it gets up to 100 degrees, like 110 degrees when I first got there, so I wasn't used to that. I am glad that I made the decision to go there and it has been fun."
How about this? We knew that track and working on his sprinting career was part of the original recruiting pitch to Hubbard. Then Oklahoma State sprint coach Diego Flaquer, working with the OSU director of track and field Dave Smith, was involved in the recruitment of Hubbard along with the football staff. Now, Hubbard said in the interview he is pondering getting back on the track.
In the 10th grade in Canada, Hubbard traveled to the Youth World Games in Columbia and ran a 10.5 in the 100 meters and placed fourth. In Canada, he was a three-time champion in his age group growing up.
"I haven't sprinted in awhile, but I'm planning on getting back on the track this year," Hubbard said to Brandt and Marvez. "I'm waiting on my body to heal a little bit, but obviously that has been a dream of mine also since I was very young, so if I was able to accomplish both that would be very special."
Pokes Report had speculated that Hubbard sought advice from his close friend and former Cowboys running back Justice Hill on his decision. Hill just finished his rookie season in the NFL with Baltimore after leaving following his junior season with the Cowboys. Hubbard was asked about Hill by Gil Brandt.
"I was just talking to him yesterday actually, me and Justice are real close, and he's like a brother to me," started Hubbard. "He's quiet around other people and stuff like that, kind of kept to himself. Around friends he can be a little more loud. He's just a great guy, great human being, and I learned a lot from him. He is really intelligent and he set me up for greatness. Anything I needed he helped me. The Baltimore Ravens got a steal. I said all the time, he is explosive and fast, he has great hands, and he is really an all-around back . Once he gets that position he is going to do great things."
Hubbard was asked about his name, a question that he has answered more than a few times in his Cowboys career. It is an answer that is fitting, and not just because of his football ability. His teammates will tell you Hubbard is special because of the kind of person he is. I have never seen a player of his ability that is more humble or shares more of himself with his teammates. I see it all the time on the locker room, the practice field, road trips. Hubbard is unique and Chuba, the meaning of his name is true.
"It is Nigerian, it means gift of God."
Brandt ended the interview and the segment from the Walter Camp honors weekend with a description of the gift Hubbard will be next spring when he does go in the NFL Draft.
"They are getting a guy that has quickness," Brandt said of what Hubbard offers. "He has speed and strength. It is going to be very hard for him to run in the Olympics, because he weighs about 210. That running the 100 is for guys that weight about 170, but I think he is going to be a back that is a first round pick and shows a lot of promise."