Canadian Cowboy Chuba Hubbard running alongside Oklahoma State greats

Chuba Hubbard has put himself among elite company at Oklahoma State University.

The Canadian Cowboy rushed for 296 yards on 25 carries with one explosive touchdown in the Pokes’ upset victory over Kansas State University. OSU jumped to No. 21 in the top 25 national rankings, thanks in large part to Hubbard.

The Sherwood Park, Alberta native leads the entire NCAA in rushing with 938 yards in five games, including three 200-plus yard efforts. That’s a feat never accomplished in school history, which is remarkable considering Pro Football Hall of Fame running backs Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas played at OSU.

Hubbard’s putting up video game-type numbers, currently on pace for more than 2,400 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground in 13 games. That’s channeled memories of Sanders and Thomas in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Boone Pickens Stadium has been the place to witness Hubbard’s rise.

Sanders is the only player in Oklahoma State history to win the Heisman Trophy. That was from a monstrous 2,850-yard, 42 touchdown campaign in 1988 — both of which remain in NCAA Division I records.

“I wouldn’t say I’m even close to Barry or anything like that. People kind of go a little over the top with that,” Hubbard said.

The last running back to put his hands on the most coveted individual award in football was Derrick Henry. The hulking back rushed for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2015 as a member of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Hubbard’s eye-popping production has put him in the Heisman conversation.

“They’re going to compare him to whoever won the last Heisman that was running the ball,” Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said.

“I’m blessed. It’s cool that it’s happening but I just want to win,” Hubbard said.

The high school track star dreams of making the Olympics as a sprinter one day after running a personal-best 100 metre time of 10.55 seconds in 2015. NCAA schools offered Hubbard scholarships in both sports — football and track — and he identifies Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse as one of his idols. Hubbard bulked up to 207 pounds to handle the load of a No. 1 running back at a Power Five conference university.

“If you stop the [Heisman] race right now he’s in good shape, but we got a long ways to go. He’s gotta stay hungry, he’s gotta stay humble, gotta continue to work hard,” Gundy said.

“If he starts to read his press, think he’s pretty good, back off in practice, he won’t be as good. I don’t think he’ll do that, if he stays strong, if he stays humble, he’ll do just fine.”

Gundy admittedly wants to run the football and pound on the opposition. The Cowboys traditionally have a high-powered offence under the guidance of the former OSU quarterback. That ideology bodes well for Hubbard who can continue running into the record books and up Heisman ballots.

“When he’s on the field we’re a different football team,” Gundy said.

Hubbard’s emerging as a game-changing back and about to become a household name in North America. It’s a role the Bev Facey High School product seems well-suited to handle. The campaign has begun: #HubbardForHeisman.

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