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Edmonton-area football player enjoying spectacular success in NCAA

Click to play video: 'Sherwood Park’s Chuba Hubbard commits to NCAA football program' Sherwood Park’s Chuba Hubbard commits to NCAA football program
WATCH ABOVE: (From Feb. 1, 2017) He's an incredible high school athlete from Sherwood Park, Alta. and on Wednesday, Chuba Hubbard committed to a highly-respected NCAA football program. Jack Haskins reports. – Feb 1, 2017

Edmonton-area running back Chuba Hubbard’s wildly successful season with Oklahoma State has made a lifelong issue a much smaller problem.

For as far back as Hubbard can remember, folks have struggled to pronounce his first name. Most say CHUB-uh. He even heard someone throw his first and last name together and come up with Choohubbard.

For the record, it’s pronounced CHOO-buh. And since he leads the United States in rushing and all-purpose yards, people are finally starting to get it right.

“They are trying,” he said. “As long as they are trying, I get it. As long as they are saying my name some type of way, I guess it’s a good thing.”

He is giving people plenty of reasons to practice. He has rushed for 1,381 yards this season in eight games, an average of 172.6 yards per contest, and ranks second in the U.S. with 16 rushing touchdowns heading into Saturday’s home game against TCU.

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It’s been enough to draw attention from former Oklahoma State and NFL star running back Barry Sanders, a Heisman Trophy winner.

“He congratulated me on how the season’s going,” Hubbard said.

“I would have never thought in a million years that Barry Sanders would be congratulating me. It’s cool.”

Hubbard has approached some of Sanders’ numbers. He rushed for a career-high 296 yards in a win over Kansas State, one of three games this season in which he has rushed for at least 200 yards.

“He is a great football player,” Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said. “He can run through arm tackles, he gets his shoulders squared and then he’ll outrun you. He is a dynamite player.”

Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (30) runs past Texas defensive back Brandon Jones (19) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Austin, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay

Against Tulsa, Hubbard broke loose for a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. He blew past defenders who appeared to have an angle on him and crossed the goal line 10 seconds into the game. He finished the day with 256 yards and three touchdowns. He pounded out 171 yards on 32 carries against undefeated Baylor.

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“You never know how good someone is until you play them. He was hard to tackle.”

It’s quite a jump for a young man who grew up playing Canadian football.

READ MORE: Sherwood Park football player Chuba Hubbard cowboys up at Oklahoma State University

Hubbard hails from Sherwood Park, near Edmonton. While many of his friends played hockey, he drifted toward track and football and competes in both at Oklahoma State. The benefits of track were also touted by Wisconsin star running back Jonathan Taylor.

Hubbard never saw being from Canada, or anything else, as a limitation.

“For me, there’s a lot of talented Canadian football players out there,” he said. “I think that’s often overlooked and that’s one of the big reasons I’m proud that I came here, and proud that I’m showing Canadians can ball. It’s different football, but at the end of the day, it’s still football.”

READ MORE: Edmonton area student Chuba Hubbard signs scholarship with Oklahoma State University

Though he watched the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos as a kid, he also grew up admiring NFL running back Adrian Peterson because of his durability and explosiveness.

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“When I used to watch him I used to think, ‘That’s a workhorse,”’ Hubbard said. “When he’s out there, he’s like a bull — who can run a 4.3 (40-yard dash). Watching that guy, that was my hero.

He is like Peterson in some ways. He has breakaway speed, which has allowed him to average 6.4 yards per carry. As for durability, he averages 27 carries per game. His powerful 6-foot-1, 207-pound frame handles punishment well — and he dishes it out, too.

“A lot of people when they first saw me here — really my whole life playing football — they just see me as that fast guy,” he said.

“I got involved with football because of the contact. I could have just stayed with track and ran but I like hitting and I like running through people. That’s just stuff I love.”

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