It’s time for a Heartland College Sports round table as we debate whether or not Oklahoma State’s star running back Chuba Hubbard should declare for the 2020 NFL Draft or return for the 2020 season in Stillwater. Let’s get right to it with the gang!
Dave Beall: As the resident Heartland College Sports Oklahoma State fan I first want to say thanks to Chuba Hubbard for an amazing year! After that I want to say “bye” because he’s gone! Of all the stats he put up, leading the nation in yards, all those touchdowns, that great yards per carry average, all those broken tackles….. none of it matters as much as this stat: 309 carries. Running backs have a short life. People talk about mileage and he’s already got a lot of it. Even if OSU found a back to share the load with him next year he’s going to have 200+ more carries if he comes back. That’s a lot people diving at your legs trying to tackle you. He’s talked multiple times about wanting to improve the financial situation of his family. He can do that now.
There’s always a chance though. Justin Blackmon came back for an extra year when he would’ve been a first round pick, but that was because he knew how good the team could be and he was right. OSU missed the National Championship game by a field goal the following year. So if Mike Gundy wants Chuba Hubbard to return that’s the pitch he has work. First, talk Tylan Wallace into coming back which would probably be easier than getting Chuba to stay. After that you try to sell the idea that with an improving offensive line, Spencer Sanders and Tylan Wallace returning, and a defense that improved greatly over the second half of the season and is only losing one starter that the team has a chance to win the conference and make the playoffs if he also stays. Bring up that they could’ve beat Texas, Texas Tech, and Baylor if not for a few mistakes. Make him believe the team is CLOSE. That’s a tall task and a tough sell for a likely third-round-at-the-worst guy. If Mike Gundy pulls it off it would be his greatest recruiting win in his 15 years at OSU. But it’s not likely. If I had to put numbers on it (and I hope I’m wrong!) I’d say its about a 5% chance he returns, 15% if Wallace stays.
Cameron Brock: Chuba Hubbard will not and should not return to Oklahoma State. I’ve done some research on running backs. They have the shortest career lifespan. This is a position that is built to be hit the most. It’s built to be bruised the most. Any running back whose stock is high when they are eligible to be drafted should leave. Running backs with longevity like Emmitt Smith, Adrian Peterson and Tiki Barber are a rare kind. Darren Sproles is still in the league because he’s used in a variety of roles instead of just a pound-the-rock back. We’ve seen how quickly running quarterbacks see their careers end. Look no further than Robert Griffin III for that. Many great running backs do not last a full decade. Chuba, take the money and run.
Matthew Postins: Should Chuba Hubbard stay at Oklahoma State in 2020? That’s up to him. Will he stay at Oklahoma State in 2020? I say no.
Hubbard put together an incredible season, rushing for nearly 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. From a college standpoint, it’s unlikely he’ll have a better season. Plus, this season puts him on the radar of every NFL scout entering the 2020 Draft. He’s undersized to be a bell cow back in the NFL at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds, but he has the frame to add weight and the speed to make him an immediate asset to an NFL team.
I think he’ll get a second- or third-round grade from the NFL and that will be good enough for him to make the jump. Best to strike when the iron’s hot, and Hubbard will likely never have more leverage when it comes to the draft that he does right now.
Derek Duke: After putting together a 1,936 yard and 21 touchdown rushing performance this season, the time is now for Chuba Hubbard to move on. In fact, I doubt he will play in their bowl game against Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl in a few weeks. We all know the shelf life of running backs is short and I think Chuba and his head coach Mike Gundy know that. If my memory is correct, I believe Gundy hinted that Justice Hill could return for his senior season, but we all know how that turned out. Also, what good would Chuba Hubbard get out of staying another season? He already is going to be one of the most sought-after running backs in this draft class and him churning out another almost 2,000-yard season would only put more wear and tear on his body. I enjoyed watching Chuba play and I am sure Oklahoma State fans did too, but we may have already seen his last game in a Cowboy uniform.
Pete Mundo: Here’s how I look at any decision: What is the upside versus the downside? Depending on what kind of NFL Draft grade Chuba is getting, I just can’t imagine him being drafted below the third or fourth round. I realize that running backs are not being valued like they did a generation ago, with just two backs (Josh Jacobs and Miles Sanders) taken in the first two rounds last year. But if anyone can crack the mold it’s Hubbard with his unique combination of power, agility and speed. Still, even if Hubbard is a third-round selection, which is what Iowa State RB David Montgomery was for the Bears last year, he will likely make over $1 million per year. Sign me up! And the downside? Hubbard suffers a season-ending injury that potentially impacts his ability to ever make substantial money based on his incredible skill set. What’s the point? Sure, OSU could be a threat to win a Big 12 title if he returns with Tylan Wallace, but at what cost? We will miss you in the Big 12, Chuba, but it’s time to move on young man. Go get ’em.
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