Chuba Hubbard led the nation in rushing yards in 2019, but he didn’t win any national awards.
Walter Camp Player of Year? Finalist.
Doak Walker Award? Finalist.
Maxwell Award? Semifinalist.
Heisman Trophy? Not a finalist.
After a breakout sophomore season, Hubbard surely will be motivated to show he’s capable of more and win awards. But the Oklahoma State star running back isn’t focused on individual accolades.
“It’s a big year for our team, I wouldn’t say it’s just a big year for me,” Hubbard said Tuesday during his media availability. “I didn’t come back to break records for myself. I came back to win a Big 12 championship and a national championship with my team.”
OSU went 8-5, including 5-4 in the Big 12, last season and ended 2019 with a 24-21 loss to Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl. The loss ended the Cowboys’ three-game postseason win streak.
Even in a shortened 10-game season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hubbard will be able to climb his way up the record books. His 2,834 career rushing yards sit outside the top 10 in program history, but once he eclipses 90 yards that’ll change. He ran for 161.1 yards per game last season, and he if can accomplish that or better he could surpass Barry Sanders (3,797), Kendall Hunter (4,181) and even David Thompson (4,318) for third all time.
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said Monday that he hopes new offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn will be able to limit the workload for Hubbard this coming season, but understands the team may need to lean on Hubbard at times.
“He’s gonna get his carries,” Gundy said. “We’ll base it on how he feels throughout the game, but I would hope that he wouldn’t have to carry it 30 times a game, but if he does for us to be successful on offense, and he feels good, then we’ll continue to give it to him.”
Gundy has gradually increased Hubbard’s role this summer to conserve him for later in the season. The strategy appears to be paying off.
“I feel great,” Hubbard said. “I’m bigger, stronger, faster and I fixed a lot of things that I needed to work on, so I feel good going into this season.”
Hubbard, who could see more catches out of the backfield in Dunn’s offense, knows there’s room for improvement in his game before he declares for the 2021 NFL Draft.
“Since I’ve got here I’ve worked on my hands with coach Dunn,” Hubbard said. “Every year since I got here actually. Every practice pretty much. That’s been an ongoing thing, but I’ve definitely worked on my routes and flexing out and stuff like that.
“I’m trying to improve running between the tackles, getting around the edge, open-field cuts all these different things. Obviously last year a lot of good things happened, but I had a great [offensive] line, a great team around me to help me with those things. I just realize that I have to work on a lot of things and I did so I’m happy where I am at right now.”