Hubbard's return brings OSU back into Big 12 Championship conversation

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No. 21 OSU at WVU-9800.jpg

OSU running back Chuba Hubbard before the No. 21 Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia Big 12 Conference football game on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Canada's Cowboy will return to Stillwater for another ride.

Oklahoma State's star running back Chuba Hubbard posted a video on his Twitter account shortly after 5 p.m. Monday to announce highly-anticipated news for OSU football fans.

After weeks of deliberation to open the new year, Hubbard revealed his intentions to return to school to play for the Cowboys again in 2020 rather than enter the 2020 NFL Draft, as many suspected he would decide to do.

"Returning. In. 2020," the video said at the end of a montage of highlights from Hubbard's spectacular 2019 campaign.

As his tweet rippled throughout the OSU community, optimism and hype for the Cowboys' next season shot through the roof, fittingly, in the hours leading up to the final college football game of the 2019-20 season, in which LSU defeated Clemson to win the College Football Playoff National Championship.

As the season concluded, Hubbard's numbers remained at the top of the rushing list.

OSU's Canadian speedster led the nation in rushing yards with 2,094 and all-purpose yards with 2,334 in his redshirt sophomore year in 2019, which was the 18th-best rushing total in NCAA Division I history and the second-best in OSU history behind Barry Sanders' Heisman Trophy-winning 1988 season when he set the NCAA record with 2,850 yards.

After rushing for 158 yards in the Texas Bowl in December to finish the year, Hubbard joined Sanders as the only players in OSU history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season.

NFL draft experts have labeled Hubbard, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds, as one of the top running backs eligible for the 2020 draft, and had he declared for the NFL, he was expected to be picked anywhere between the second and sixth round.

"You may not understand why ... But we do," the OSU football team captioned a photo of the 2019 offensive linemen surrounding Hubbard in a group hug. The photo was posted immediately on its social media accounts Monday after Hubbard posted his announcement video, which was produced by OSU Athletics.

With All-American wide receiver Tylan Wallace's New Year's Day announcement that he'd return to school because he's "after a Big 12 Championship in 2020," and believes OSU has "the team to do it," and the Cowboys expecting to return starting quarterback Spencer Sanders, Hubbard's announced return has Cowboy fans throwing around the term "Big 12 Championship" with sincerity for the first time since Mason Rudolph and James Washington roamed campus.

In Hubbard and Wallace, OSU returns the only duo in the country with at least 2,500 career rushing yards and at least 2,500 career receiving yards. The Cowboys also expect to return 10 of 11 defensive starters and 21 of 22 defensive players from the two-deep Texas Bowl depth chart.

“See you in Jerry’s World,” OSU linebacker and fellow Canadian Amen Ogbongbemiga tweeted in reference to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which is the annual site of the Big 12 championship game.

"Life is good," Hubbard simply wrote, next to a Canadian flag emoji, to accompany the announcement video in his tweet.

As Cowboy fans celebrate and prepare their expectations, the NFL will have to wait another year for Hubbard, who decided the incentives weren't enough to pull the Canadian Cowboy away from Stillwater just yet.

sports.ed@ocolly.com