Canadian running Chuba Hubbard is obviously over the ankle injury that hampered his final season at Oklahoma State University.
After rushing for 2,094 yards (6.4-yard average) and 21 TDs in 2019 — the most in U.S. college football — the six-foot, 210-pound native of Sherwood Part, Alta., ran for 625 yards (4.7-yard average) and five touchdowns last year. After missing two games with a high ankle sprain, Hubbard opted out the remainder of the season and declared for the ’21 NFL draft.
Hubbard showed Thursday at Oklahoma State’s pro day he’s over the injury. Social media posts had him covering the 40-yard dash in a very quick 4.36 seconds although Jim Nagy, the executive director of the Senior Bowl, had Hubbard’s two times listed at 4.50 and 4.48 seconds.
Nagy also had Hubbard recording a 36-inch vertical jump, 4.26-second short shuttle and 20 reps in the 225-pound bench press
“Just to show I’m back and healthy,” Hubbard told reporters during a videoconference about what he wanted to show in the workout. “I’m very fortunate and very thankful to be in this position.
“Only a few out of Canada even make it, only a few get drafted from the States as well. To be in this position I’m very thankful.”
Hubbard and linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga of Calgary both performed before scouts from all 32 NFL teams. The six-foot-one, 231-pound Ogbongbemiga said he wasn’t sure of his results but Nagy had the Canadian’s 40-yard dash times at 4.71 and 4.66 seconds, 4.28 seconds in the short shuttle and 24 reps in the bench press.
But most eyes were firmly fixed upon Hubbard, the redshirt junior who was eighth in voting for the 2019 Heisman Trophy, given annually to U.S. college football’s top player. Hubbard, a redshirt junior, finished his college career with 3,459 rushing yards (5.9-yard average) and 33 TDs as well as 53 catches for 479 yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s just football,” Hubbard said of the session. “A different group of people watching, obviously.
“I’m just going to go out there and do my best, do what I could and then whatever happens from that happens.”
Hubbard took a calculated risk returning to school rather than declaring for the 2020 draft, given many pundits had him as a second- or third-round selection. But Hubbard said he has no regrets about his decision.
“I’ve grown so much this year as a person, as a leader, as a football player,” he said. “A lot of people think I had a down year… but I wanted to win a championship, I wanted to get my degree and I just wanted to mature.
“I feel I did a lot of that. The one thing I wasn’t able to do is help my team win a championship and that’s something that will always kind of be on my back but I hope at this next level, whatever team decides to pick me up I can help them win a championship.”
Hubbard also had no regrets for calling out OSU head coach Mike Gundy last summer for appearing in a photo wearing a T-shirt promoting One America News, a far-right news network.
“At the end of the day, I’m me,” Hubbard said. “I’m someone that’s going to stand up for what’s right, I’m going to speak up when I think something is wrong.
“I look at myself as a leader, not just on the football field but also off the football field. That being said, I make mistakes… I’m a young man, I’m still growing in a lot of different ways. The big thing from it is I always learn from my mistakes, I always learn from my greatest successes.”
Ogbongbemiga capped his collegiate career registering 80 tackles (50 solo), five tackles for a loss, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles in 2020. He was named the Cowboys’ defensive MVP the previous season after recording 100 tackles (63 solo), 15.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks.
Ogbongbemiga said being at OSU with Hubbard was mutually beneficial
“We wanted to be the two people from Canada to come to a program and kind of take that next step because a lot of people didn’t expect that,” he said. “A lot of people probably thought we were just going to get weeded out and never play and probably have to come back to Canada to play.
“But we had different things planned and we’re excited to be in this position and hopefully take the next step. It’s crazy to think about where I came from and where I am now… I can’t stop now, I just got to keep going.”
Ogbongbemiga said his goal Thursday was to show he’s a good athlete.
“I wanted to run pretty well and a lot of people told me I did,” he said. “The drills were kind of my other main focus to show my athleticism and versatility and I think I excelled in that.
“I joined the (defensive backs) and did some drills and joined the linebackers as well. I just tried to show my hips, my fluidity and my game. I’m just excited for the next step of the process.”
Ogbongbemiga said whatever NFL team he joins will get a player who’s all about football.
“They’re getting a person who is all-in all the time,” he said. “When I was in Canada, I’d walk to the bus stop at 5 a.m. in two feet (60 centimetres) of snow to just try to keep getting better and eventually get (to where) I’m at now.
“Those are the things that moulded me into the athlete I am. I’m ready for whatever team to know they’re getting a player that’s all in and will do anything to help the team win… I just want to play football.”