Chuba Hubbard will follow the same plan of his predecessor as Oklahoma State’s running back, electing to opt out of the end of the season – and the bowl game – after battling an injury.
Cowboy coach Mike Gundy made the news official in his pregame radio show before Saturday’s game at Baylor, saying Hubbard has “chosen to go to the NFL.”
Perhaps it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, though.
Hubbard hasn’t played since Oklahoma State’s blowout loss in Bedlam, sitting out the Texas Tech and TCU games due to nagging injuries that had limited for the better part of the season.
His decision to focus on preparing for the NFL is reminiscent of Justice Hill, who played his last game also against Oklahoma (in which he sustained an injury) and opted out of the bowl game. That decision is what allowed Hubbard to get a few games under his belt before becoming the bell cow in 2019, when he led the country in rushing yards.
Hubbard’s encore campaign didn’t go as scripted, however.
He made noise during the offseason when he called out Gundy for wearing a T-shirt of a conservative news channel, which led many to wonder if it would be a distraction for Hubbard and the Cowboys during the season.
The critics certainly got some fuel when Hubbard failed to capture the lightning in a bottle that made him an international name in 2019.
His final season with the Cowboys will go down with him rushing for 625 yards on 133 carries, with an average of just 89 yards per game and five touchdowns.
He becomes the second star player to opt out of the final few games within the program, with offensive lineman Teven Jenkins having made the decision after the Texas Tech game – which he did not play in – with Bedlam also being his last game.
The growing trend of athletes opting out early across the country, which has now hit Oklahoma State this season, was actually a concern Gundy addressed earlier this week in his weekly Zoom conference with the Oklahoma State media.
“We’ve got lots of players that are just stopping in the middle to latter part of the season and not playing any more,” Gundy said Monday. “And my concern with that is, is how the television market is going to feel about their investment in bowl games with the potential of two teams playing in a bowl game and the best or most highly decorated three of four players on each don’t play in the bowl. …
“I’m concerned about, is there going to be a market for us or the television people just going to say, ‘I’ll just show a couple more NBA games on Saturday. I’m not going to show this whole game with their five or six best players and the other team’s five or six best players not playing in the game.’”