Uncertainty hasn’t shaken Chuba Hubbard’s enthusiasm for football season.
Hubbard, Oklahoma State’s standout running back, was in Stillwater when he participated in a virtual ceremony Wednesday to accept The Cornish Trophy. The award honors the NCAA’s best Canadian football player, but instead of returning to his hometown of Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Hubbard is living in his college town. Although he said he spends much of his time there alone, social distancing hasn’t stopped him from consistently preparing for the day he can play in Boone Pickens Stadium again, whenever that might be.
“I’m still training and stuff, so I’m good,” Hubbard said. “I’m doing whatever I can. I’m trying to stay ready. Right now, I wouldn’t say I’m ahead of where I was last year, but in a month from now, I’ll be ahead.”
Hubbard, a 2019 consensus All-American and a Doak Walker Award finalist, announced in January that he would return to OSU for his redshirt junior season instead of leaving for the NFL Draft. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no one is certain whether that season will follow a usual timeline. Hubbard said he has mulled over the idea of what he might do if games were delayed until spring, but he didn’t want to discuss that yet. He is focused on what he can control, which is getting himself physically ready to play regardless of outside factors.
“I’ll be in the best shape of my life by the time the season comes,” Hubbard said. “I’m not worried about that.”
Before Hubbard came back to Stillwater, he was staying in Baltimore, where he trained with linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga and former teammate Justice Hill. Hubbard said he learned a lot from Hill, who is now a running back for the Baltimore Ravens. Hubbard didn’t want to give away any secrets, though.
“You’re going to have to see on the field,” Hubbard said. “But he gave me some tips and stuff, so I’m excited.”
In Stillwater, Hubbard strives to hold himself accountable with a routine despite the lack of normalcy. Early in the day, he can focus on conditioning for football and doing homework. Then he has time for other activities, whether he takes a walk or devotes time to developing his nonprofit organization, which is called Your Life, Your Choice, according to a Bleacher Report profile of Hubbard.
Hubbard recognizes he is inspiring young people, especially in Canada, where athletes are realizing they can have opportunities to compete in the United States. The Cornish Trophy is a symbol of that pride many Canadians have in him; he garnered 19 of 20 first-place votes. Hubbard said he doesn’t fixate on the praise, but it reminds him to stay grounded and raise his expectations for himself because he is setting an example for others.
“This award is an honor, and I’m blessed,” Hubbard said. “And if someone would have told me a few years ago this happened, I’d probably be shocked. But the biggest thing for me now, I’m focused on next year. This is amazing, and I’m trying to take this all in; but I’m dialed in.”