Eleven Warriors' football offseason coverage continues today with the sixth installment of the sixth edition of the Better Know a Buckeye series. We continue the series with Sam Hubbard, who comes from Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati. He projects at either safety or outside linebacker for Ohio State.
To repeat a recurring theme of this year's recruiting class, Sam Hubbard is high on potential and athletic capabilities. However, he is substantively light on hype.
Scout's recruiting service is enamored with Hubbard, giving him five-star status and prominence as the 18th best overall prospect in their rankings. That said, Rivals list him as a three-star and just the 30th best prospect in the Buckeye State. 247Sports' composite ranking puts Hubbard at no. 181 overall in the country and the seventh best prospect in Ohio. The potential is intriguing and divergences of opinion on Hubbard may be a function of him being a late arrival on the recruiting scene.
Below, I retell how Hubbard's unusual path to Ohio State. Thereafter, I mention strengths and areas of improvement. After providing film and projecting a redshirt in 2014, I conclude with miscellaneous things about Hubbard you may find interesting.
High School: Archbishop Moeller High School; Cincinnati
Hubbard's recruitment starts late into his junior year and was brief. In February of last year, Sam Hubbard picked up interest from football schools for the first time. This even resulted in offers from Boston College and Ohio University. A month after those offers came, Ohio State extended an offer of its own. That Hubbard's recruitment was not more protracted and gradual is a departure from the usual trajectory. This is especially true since Archbishop Moeller High School is a football powerhouse and won the Division I state championship in 2012.
Hubbard's late discovery could be attributed to his commitment to two sports, namely lacrosse. In January of his sophomore year, Hubbard pledged to Notre Dame to play lacrosse. Hubbard picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time in fourth grade and became a natural in the sport. He jumped on the opportunity to play for Notre Dame.
Hubbard also hoped that he could play both sports in college for Notre Dame, but was not able to reach an understanding with Brian Kelly's coaching staff on that issue. For the meantime, he assumed lacrosse would be his first sport and primary athletic commitment at the next level.
However, there was no other program but Ohio State on Hubbard's radar. Days after getting his scholarship offer, Hubbard scheduled an unofficial visit for April 5. As the day of the visit approached, Hubbard made it clear football had become his primary athletic commitment. He decommitted from Notre Dame's lacrosse program a few days before the target visit date.
When the day itself came, a commitment followed that was perhaps a fait accompli.
On April 5, 2013, Sam Hubbard became the sixth member of Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class.
In an interview with Eleven Warriors, Hubbard discussed his commitment and, importantly, why he decided to pursue football at Ohio State in lieu of lacrosse at Notre Dame.
You committed to Ohio State Friday. Why did you decide to become a Buckeye?
I was previously committed to Notre Dame to play lacrosse, but after I talked to Coach Meyer and Coach Fickell and visited with my dad a couple of weeks ago, I knew this is where I wanted to be. I just had to visit with my mom before deciding and my sister tagged along, too. We all had a great day in Columbus and I finished the day off by committing to Ohio State.
How did you commit to Coach Meyer? How did he react?
I think he knew it was coming. My family had been telling him how much they loved Ohio State all day. At the end of the visit I had a meeting with Coach Meyer in his office. He asked me what I thought of the visit and I told him I had made my decision and wanted to be a Buckeye. He stood up, gave me a hug, then we took a lot of pictures and looked around campus a little more.
Why did you decide to play football instead of lacrosse?
It was a really early process. I committed to Notre Dame for lacrosse January of my sophomore year. Then I had a great junior season on the football field and started to get a lot of offers. Football has a much bigger stage. You're playing in front of 100,000 people, where in lacrosse, you're playing in front of about 2,000 people.
Where He Excels
Ohio State fans hope that Hubbard's arrival at Ohio State will compensate for the sudden departure of Mike Mitchell, who will transfer from Ohio State after the current semester. At 6-6 and 225 pounds, he projects at outside linebacker, though he played safety for Moeller.
Hubbard is one of the most gifted athletes in Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class, though this superlative could be used for what seems like half of the 23 signees.
At the high school level, his size, athleticism and speed was problematic for opposing offenses. He neutralized tight ends, was imposing in run support, harassed wide receivers on intermediate routes, and created small windows and short time frames in which to fit a deep ball against the Moeller secondary.
At times, he seemed an impossible obstacle to overcome. Moeller won the last two state championships at the highest level of competition in Ohio for it.
All project well at Ohio State, though it is likely Hubbard slides to outside linebacker at the next level. His size should match opposing tight ends well in run support. His ability to get sideline to sideline should help take away outside runs from opposing offenses.
Must Work On
It is not inconceivable that Hubbard could get some attention as a tight end, though this is very unlikely. The more interesting question is if he gets too big for linebacker and slides into the weakside defensive end rotation. He could develop the frame to play weakside defensive end, though I am unsure how much of an effect he could have at that position versus outside linebacker. Ohio State football needs more playmakers at linebacker at the moment.
Leverage was not much of an issue playing safety at the high school level for Moeller, but it will be at the college level. Hubbard will need to play lower at linebacker if he is to win battles at the line of scrimmage against tight ends in run support. His hand-fighting and ability to disengage from blockers are also open questions at the moment.
I thought Mike Mitchell would at least play special teams in 2013, though he did not and redshirted last year before transferring. My guess is Hubbard may not immediately crack the two-deep at linebacker, though his athleticism and his position are amenable to kickoff duties. I think he sees limited action as a true freshman this season.
This should be senior year.
- 11W Community Interview.
- Athletic prowess runs in the family. One uncle played basketball for Michigan. Another played football for Notre Dame.
- An older sister is currently a student at The Ohio State University.
- As a junior, Hubbard had 80 tackles, seven TFLs, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. As a senior, he had 110 tackles and five interceptions.
- He had 10 tackles and an interception in the state championship game win over Mentor.
- Moeller finished nationally ranked in 2013.
- Holds a 4.0 GPA.