Sam Hubbard Profile
Some guys are such talented sportsmen that they could make it to the elite level in more than one sport. And that’s exactly the situation Sam Hubbard found himself in when he was considering offers from multiple colleges before eventually agreeing to join Ohio State.
Here, we look at Sam Hubbard’s rise from a star in his High School lacrosse team to one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. We also consider why he’s such a firm favorite with Bengals fans and take a look at some of the projects he has launched through the Sam Hubbard Foundation, showcasing the fact that he’s so much more than just a football player.
Hubbard’s First Big Decision: Lacrosse or Football
Born on June 29, 1995, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sam Hubbard has lived the dream of many Ohioans. His athletic prowess has enabled him to represent the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Cincinnati Bengals, something that many youngsters in the state can only dream about.
But when Hubbard attended Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, he was primarily known as an accomplished lacrosse player. He admits that the biggest regret of his athletic career to date was not playing lacrosse in his senior year of high school - a big admission from a guy who has gone on to star in the NFL.
Hubbard was such an accomplished lacrosse player in his formative years that he was initially committed to the University of Notre Dame to play college lacrosse. He was drawn to college lacrosse by his love of the sport and the fact that it was the game he enjoyed most during his time at Moeller.
Everything changed for Hubbard, however, when iconic football coach Urban Meyer approached him in the halls of Moeller one afternoon. When Meyer and Kerry Coombs - Ohio State’s famed football coaches - made clear their interest in him, Hubbard realized that he needed to switch his priorities to football despite his love for lacrosse.
Hubbard was committed to Notre Dame for lacrosse because their recruiting took place much earlier in high school than football, and he had been playing the sport at a high level since the third grade. Incredibly to Meyer and Coombs, Hubbard had little idea of his potential as a football player when they initially approached him. Still, it wasn’t long until his head was turned to the very real possibility of a career in football.
Hubbard received offers from Boston College, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Stanford, and several others. But as a Cincinnati native, his heart was set on Ohio State, and he would go on to represent the Buckeyes with distinction.
Friends and teachers have gone on record to say how dedicated and hard-working Hubbard was during his years at Moeller, and his hard work undoubtedly paid dividends as he progressed to college, where he excelled academically and athletically.
Making his Name with the Buckeyes
Hubbard joined Ohio State in 2014 and was redshirted for his first year with the Buckeyes, allowing him time to develop. But before getting into his athletic career, it’s worth noting that Hubbard is a former Academic All-American and earned a degree in economics during his time at Ohio State. It’s little surprise, then, that he has a stellar reputation both on and off the field for his confidence, competence, and assuredness.
In his initial deployments on the field, he started out in the defensive backfield but was constantly shifted from position to position, which didn’t help his confidence in his early weeks of college. He had been earmarked as a potential safety, but coaches were concerned by his lack of muscle and wanted him to fill out physically before placing him in the role.
As his time in the gym paid dividends, Hubbard was moved up to linebacker and eventually to tight end. Still, he was struggling to cement his place in the Buckeyes’ lineup, and it wasn’t until he locked down his position as a defensive end that he was able to showcase his true potential.
Then in 2015, as a redshirt freshman, he played all 13 games for the Buckeyes, carding 28 tackles and 6.5 sacks. The following season, he once again played in all 13 games, registering 46 tackles and 3.5 sacks. His third season as a college football player went even better, as he managed 42 tackles and a career-best seven sacks. As a result of his performances, he emerged as one of the most talented defensive ends in college football and earned second-team all-Big Ten honors in 2017.
In a late 2017 Tweet, Hubbard announced that he would be foregoing his final year of eligibility for the Buckeyes, opting to enter the 2018 NFL Draft. It was a big decision for Hubbard, but he was determined to prove his worth and wanted to take the next step in his career.
The 2018 NFL Draft
Before 2017 was out, Hubbard announced that he would enter the 2018 NFL Draft. His route into the Draft was via Indianapolis, where he completed the majority of combine drills before participating at Ohio State’s pro day in March 2018. Things were looking good for Hubbard as his pre-draft measurables were impressive, and he was projected to be a first or second-round pick by NFL Draft experts.
Draft Scout ranked Hubbard as the third-best defensive end in the 2018 draft, and Sports Illustrated identified him as the fifth-best edge rusher.
As a result of his measurables and profile, the Bengals selected Hubbard in the third round with the 77th pick. He turned out to be the seventh defensive end drafted in 2018 and was thrilled to sign for his hometown team. On June 21, 2018, Hubbard signed a four-year deal with the Bengals worth $3.61 million, with a signing bonus of $929,200.
In spite of Hubbard’s undoubted promise, reactions were mixed as to whether the Bengals needed another defensive end. Some fans also queried why the Bengals went for another Ohio State graduate after picking Billy Price in round one of the Draft. But it wouldn’t be long before Hubbard more than justified his pick.
Becoming a Bengals’ Favorite
There are few things that Bengals fans love more than homegrown talent, and Hubbard quickly became a firm favorite with Cincinnati fans after making his debut in 2018. His first NFL sack came on September 13, when he brought down Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens for a loss of 11 yards. This was his first home game for the Bengals, and it was something that immediately drew praise and adoration from the Bengals faithful.
Hubbard initially benefitted from an injury to Michael Johnson and was able to feature regularly throughout his first year in the NFL. In fact, he achieved multiple highs in his rookie season, including a 19-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins.
Hubbard finished his rookie season with the Bengals with some impressive stats - totaling 39 tackles, nine QB hits, seven tackles-for-loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. In other words, just a season into his NFL career, Hubbard had already become a firm favorite among Bengals fans.
Undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of Hubbard’s career to date came in 2019. In the Battle of Ohio against the Cleveland Browns, Hubbard recorded a team-high six tackles and sacked Baker Mayfield 1.5 times, cementing his place in Bengals folklore in the process. He also put in an outstanding performance in the Bengals’ narrow defeat to the Seattle Seahawks in the same season - registering ten tackles and two sacks during the game, even though the Bengals went on to lose 21-20.
As a regular in the side, Hubbard was offered a new four-year contract in 2021, signing on the dotted line for a contract worth $40 million, much to the delight of Bengals fans who increasingly regarded him as a key member of the squad. He excelled as the Bengals defensive end and linebacker in his first four years, and he has earned his reputation as the team’s best edge rusher as a result.
Hubbard went on to feature prominently throughout the Bengals’ successful 2021-22 season, helping them to the Super Bowl with a number of notable contributions.
In week 7, he registered 2.5 sacks against the Baltimore Ravens and famously strip-sacked Patrick Mahomes in the red zone of the 2021 AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The sack forced the Chiefs to kick a field goal, setting up overtime which the Bengals eventually won 27-24. Although the Bengals weren’t able to get the better of the Rams in the Super Bowl, Hubbard’s contributions in getting the Bengals to the showcase event will live long in the memory of Bengals fans.
It’s not just on the football field that Sam Hubbard has drawn praise, and his community initiative ‘Hubbard’s Cupboards’ is serving a much-needed purpose in Cincinnati. He launched the scheme in 2022 as an on-site supplement service to schools, providing kids in need with essentials for their backpacks, including food, supplies, and hygiene products.
Hubbard partnered with four schools within the Mt. Healthy School System to deliver the program in 2022-23, and it is one of the main projects of the Sam Hubbard Foundation that is making a positive social impact in his native city. The initiative is seen as an innovative strategy to address food insecurity in Cincinnati. Hubbard has been rightly praised for the initiative and his commitment to social justice.
Hubbard is keen to launch further programs from his foundation in the coming months and years, showcasing that there’s a lot more to life than football and his legacy off the field is as important to him as his legacy playing in the Bengals’ defense. Hubbard’s commitment to social justice is something we can all take inspiration from, and it’s great to see an athlete taking responsibility for a cause he cares deeply about in his community.
Recap: Sam Hubbard Profile
From his early days at Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Sam Hubbard was always destined for a career in sports - even though he wasn’t initially sure whether it would be in lacrosse or football! After showcasing his talents at OSU with the Buckeyes, he was picked by the Bengals in the 2018 NFL Draft, allowing him to represent his hometown team on the grandest stage.
Hubbard has emerged as one of the Bengals’ most valuable defensive talents and was instrumental in their AFC Championship-winning season in 2021. While he has a lot of football still ahead of him, Sam Hubbard will likely go from strength to strength and remain a huge favorite with Bengals fans.
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