Canada’s best: Hubbard named top college football player from north of the border

Jason Elmquist/Stillwater News Press Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard was named the Cornish Trophy winner, awarded to the top college football player from Canada. Fellow Cowboy Amen Ogbongbemiga was also a finalist for the award.

Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard won what is widely consider the Heisman Trophy of Canada.

The Sherwood Park, Alberta, native was named the winner of the Cornish Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top Canadian player in NCAA football. It is the first time an Oklahoma State player has received such recognition in the three-year history of the award – though Hubbard was the runner-up last year to Ohio University quarterback Nathan Rourke.

Hubbard was presented the honor during a ceremony live on YouTube on Wednesday.

“It’s an honor to represent Canada, Alberta and my family in accepting this award, and acknowledging all the hard work I’ve put in,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard received 19 of the 20 first-place votes as selected by 20 reporters, CFL player personnel staff and other experts who go through two rounds of voting following the college football bowl season.

This is the first national award Hubbard, who was a finalist for many college football awards, secured in honor for his big 2019 campaign.

Hubbard was a unanimous All-American and the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, while being a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and a finalist for the Doak Walker Award – presented to the nation’s top running back. He also finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, which marks the third-best finish for a Canadian player.

The Cowboy tailback was the leading rusher in the FBS with 2,094 rushing yards – which ranks 16th all-time, and third in Big 12 Conference history. It trails only Barry Sanders’ 1988 Heisman season in the list of single-season rushing performances for the Oklahoma State program.

“I set goals every single year – individual goals, team goals – but I always try to reach for the sky,” Hubbard said in the YouTube ceremony. “I always try to set my goals as high as possible, and from there, I just work as hard as possible to get there.

“To actually see your goals come to fruition and come true, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Hubbard also saw an increased role in the passing game later in the 2019 season.

After rushing for 223 yards against TCU to become the first tailback to eclipse 200 yards against a Gary Patterson-led defense, Hubbard saw an uptick in receiving with 14 receptions for 158 yards – including a team-high 88 yards on seven catches against West Virginia – over the final four games of the year. He finished the year with 23 catches for 198 yards.

“I always try to expand on my game,” Hubbard said. “I want to be a receiver, I want to be a great pass blocker and I want to run the ball really well. So that’s something I’m going to work on now that we have the time and stuff like that.”

Hubbard wasn’t the only Oklahoma State player on the finalists list for the Cornish Trophy.

Joining him on the list of five was linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga, a native of Calgary, Alberta, who was second on the Cowboy team in total tackles (100) with a team-high five sacks, along with five quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

The trophy is named for Jon Cornish (who made the official announcement of the winner during the ceremony and who is a former high school football player from British Columbia who was a two-year starter at the University of Kansas, where he set the program’s single-season rushing record with 1,457 yards in his senior season). Cornish was a second-round pick in the CFL draft and had an eight-year pro career – including a two-time winner of the Grey Cup – and was recently inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

According to a release from Oklahoma State, Hubbard was originally supposed to be presented the award at Boone Pickens Stadium on April 18 – which was when OSU was due to host its spring game. Organizers are still planning to bring the trophy to him to place his signature on the back of it to maintain the tradition of signing the trophy. The Cornish Trophy is on display at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton, Ontario.

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