Sherwood Park football player inches closer to NCAA
'One Division 1 college is taking this kid because he's that good'
His formidable speed makes Chuba Hubbard hard to catch on the football field and on the running track.
That same speed has helped the 17-year-old Sherwood Park athlete catch the attention of top American college football scouts and coaches.
Hubbard is still finishing his last high school football season, but he verbally committed to Oklahoma State University two seasons ago. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are ranked among the top 25 Division 1 football teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The school has offered Hubbard both football and track scholarships. He's also had offers from two dozen other college and universities.
"The fact that he's getting a scholarship as a running back really speaks volumes, because usually if the Americans [scouts] are going to come up here for anybody, they're coming up for linemen," said Tim Enger, Alberta Football's technical director.
"You can't teach what he has. There's literally hundreds of thousands of running backs in the United States and one Division 1 college is taking this kid because he's that good."
Hubbard scored two touchdowns Friday to help the Bev Facey Falcons capture their third straight Metro Edmonton high school championship, in a dominating 33-0 win over Harry Ainlay. Both teams had gone into the final game unbeaten.
"It's a great feeling to get a three-peat," said Hubbard with a big smile. "Me and my boys worked so hard for this. It's overwhelming a little bit."
'Not afraid to run guys over'
He was stopped in the first half, but answered with plenty of successful runs in the second. After the game, Hubbard's coach praised his poise.
"The knock on him was always that he was a track guy playing football," said Curtis Martin, Bev Facey's head coach. "If you watched the game, he's clearly not a track guy, and not afraid to run guys over.
"He's a football guy that also excels at track. He's special. He's developed the winner's mentality and he knows how to finish."
For a high school player with plenty of reasons to get overconfident, Hubbard comes across as humble. After touchdowns, his celebrations consist only of a confident head nod.
When he speaks about Bev Facey's latest championship win, he's quick to give credit to his teammates and the opposition team that managed, at times, to contain him.
In the 2016 Edmonton high school regular season, Hubbard led the league with 1,313 rushing yards. To put that in perspective, it's nearly 500 more yards than the next-best player.
Hubbard has been playing football since he was nine years old. Although his speed and evasive moves are tough to teach, he credits his current success to practice.
'Anything is possible'
"I wouldn't call it luck. I'd say I'm blessed," he said. "Hard work pays off. If you pray and put in the work, anything is possible."
He hasn't yet signed a national letter of intent with Oklahoma State. He currently has two goals: to win a provincial championship with his Bev Facey teammates, and to run the 100 metres at this year's world youth championships in Kenya.
Bloggers and football fans have dubbed Hubbard the next Bo Jackson, for his potential to be an elite two-sport athlete, but Enger, of Football Alberta, says there's a lot of work ahead of the young player.
"It would be really cool to see a kid from Alberta playing in the Orange Bowl someday, but he's still got to pass his courses, still got to pass his SATs and he's still got to go to.Oklahoma State and make the team.
"You know what? So far, so good for him."