Canadian Chuba Hubbard: ‘Christian McCaffrey changing the game’ for running backs

Canadian running back Chuba Hubbard decided to forego the NFL draft and remain at Oklahoma State University for his redshirt junior year.

Hubbard enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom during the 2019 season, rushing for an NCAA-leading 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year, a finalist for the Doak Walker Award and finished eighth in voting for the Heisman Trophy.

Despite the hoopla that accompanied his dominant campaign, Hubbard never got caught up in his own hype. He took time to make the most important choice of his life and worked though all of the possibilities. It resulted in Hubbard announcing his intention to play another season for the Cowboys.

“A lot of things factored into my decision. I just honestly felt that: one, I wanted my degree; two, I felt that I could get a lot better on the field; and three, I felt like I could mature off the field as a human being,” Hubbard said.

“When you look at the statistics with running backs going in the first, second [rounds of the NFL draft] that all matters, too. But the biggest thing for me was I wanted my degree.”

The native of Sherwood Park, Alta. can finish school in December and be ready to focus on the NFL in 2021. Hubbard is locked in on showing every-down ability and further improving his production as a receiver. He has 45 catches for 427 yards and two touchdowns in two years at OK State. If the six-foot, 201-pound speedster can record another 2,000-yard season it would boost his chances of becoming the first Canadian to win the Heisman.

According to Sports Betting Dime’s Heisman Trophy odds, he’s listed as the ninth favourite to win the award with odds set at +2125. A wager could net a massive return on investment similar to the one Oklahoma State has garnered when they recruited the Canadian Cowboy.

Hubbard heads into the 2020 season as one of the top-ranked pro running back prospects. He can raise his stock by adding muscle to his frame that will compliment his breakaway speed. The last two NFL drafts have seen just one ball carrier picked in the first round compared to three in 2018 when the New York Giants chose Saquon Barkley second overall.

“The running back position has been undervalued these last few years. I know a lot of people didn’t even expect a running back to get taken in the first round [this year],” Hubbard said.

“You see Christian McCaffrey, he’s changing the game for us.”

McCaffrey finished the 2019 NFL season with 1,387 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. He also recorded 116 receptions for 1,005 receiving yards and four scores, leading the NFL with 2,392 yards from scrimmage. Carolina rewarded the 24-year-old by giving him a four-year, $64 million contract, including $30 million guaranteed upon signing.

Hubbard has replicated McCaffrey’s success at the NCAA level, recording a 2,000-yard season. The Canadian ball carrier hopes to continue that trend in the NFL, garnering a first-round selection in the draft and the massive contract that accompanies it.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.