We’re now just 33 days from kick-off against North Dakota State with our countdown two thirds of the way done. We’ve come a long way over the last 67 days, but there are plenty of big names and big ideas left to preview. One of the biggest names (although not the biggest player) is #33 John Hubert. The senior running is expected to help carry the Wildcats as the team breaks in a new quarterback and completely revamped defense.
Hubert was a surprise starter at running back in 2011 with Bryce Brown eligible to play after transferring from Tennessee. He rushed for 970 yards his sophomore year, which ranked third all time for sophomores at K-State. He followed up his performance by leading the Wildcats in rushing his junior year with 947 yards. With Collin Klein now gone Hubert appears to be a shoe-in to break 1,000 yards rushing this year, barring unforeseen injury.
Hubert is an interesting study and reminds me a bit of Collin Klein (although standing next to each other there’s zero resemblance in body type) – he does things on the field he shouldn’t be able to do. At just 5’7″ and 190 pounds, Hubert is stout but not necessarily built like an ox. Yet when you see him hit the hole, would-be tacklers appear utterly incapable of bringing him down. Arm tackles do nothing against him. His 5.0 yards per rush average was due in large part to yards after contact. His speed also seems circumspect, but there’s a reason Hubert is a finalist to be named one of the best running backs in nation this year.
Hubert has never been asked to shoulder a huge burden for the team, and it will be interesting to see how his body performs if his carries increase this year. He only exceeded 20 carries twice last season (23 against Oklahoma and 22 versus Iowa State) and averaged 14.5 rushes per game. Should Daniel Sams be the primary quarterback, expect Sams to assume some of the rushing duties and minimize the wear and tear on Hubert. Senior running back Robert Rose should also be good for a few carries, although Rose’s limited playing time to-date leaves a lot of questions to be answered about his abilities. Heralded recruit DeMarcus Robinson also has the talent to spell Hubert, but the four-star running back has yet to see much action in two years with the team.
All of this adds up to what should be an excellent year for Hubert. He’s running behind one of the better offensive lines in the country and will be asked to help control the pace of games as a new signal caller leads the team. With 12 regular season games plus a bowl, if Hubert maintains his 5.0 average and receives 20 carries per game, he would be in line for 1,300 yards. 22 carries, and that total increases to 1,430. 23 carries would equal 1,495 yards. Braden Wilson is gone to help with pass protection, but there’s enough talent in the backfield to keep Hubert on the sidelines in obvious passing plays and keep his body fresh. Should he be asked to assume a solid workload, I can easily see him leading the Big 12 with 1,500 total yards on the season.