Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard is competing in the Battle of Alberta at Commonwealth Stadium and he made an interesting choice of attire for the contest.
Hubbard, who hails from the Edmonton suburb of Sherwood Park, had his hometown team announce his presence on Twitter and shared videos on his Instagram story of him and other family members sitting at ground level. Hubbard and his entourage received personalized number 30 Edmonton Elks jerseys for the experience.
— Edmonton Elks (@GoElks) July 8, 2022
The catch: While Hubbard grew up cheering on Edmonton, his CFL rights currently belong to rival Calgary Stampeders, who drafted him 43rd overall in the fifth round of the 2021 CFL Draft. In short, the Elks have invited one of their opponent’s most recognizable prospects into the rivalry game and decked him out in their own kit.
The marketing ploy was good by Edmonton, capitalizing on the presence of a local hero. The subtle hit is unlikely to irritate the Stampeders organization either, as Hubbard is unlikely to play a role in the CFL.
The Canadian running back was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, 126th overall, and signed an entry-level contract with the Carolina Panthers worth nearly $4.2 million. dollars. With star Christian McCaffrey struggling with injury, Hubbard saw considerable playing time as a rookie, racking up for 612 yards and five touchdowns on 172 carries. He also added 25 receptions for 174 yards and another score.
Hubbard first caught the attention of American scouts when he played at Bev Facey Community High School in his hometown. He rushed 458 times for 6,880 yards and 82 touchdowns in three years play Canadian football.
Hubbard would go on to pursue a dominant college career at Oklahoma State University, where he led the NCAA with 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore. Hubbard was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year and finished eighth in voting for the Heisman Trophy, college football’s most prestigious award.
Many pundits have speculated that he would have been a second- or third-round pick had he declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. Instead, Hubbard returned to the state of l ‘Oklahoma for his redshirt junior season, proving his desire to lead his team to a conference championship.
The Cowboys started the season strong at 5-1 but were beaten by rival Oklahoma on November 21 by a score of 41-13. Hubbard again aggravated an injury that had plagued him for part of the year, ending his season. Hubbard finished the season with 133 carries for 625 yards and five touchdowns, by far the worst totals of his college career.
The NFL appealed nonetheless, and Hubbard rose to the occasion with the Panthers, inspiring many young athletes in the Edmonton area. Although he’ll have to dress for Calgary if he ever comes up north, it’s clear it’s the Elks who really have the running back’s heart.