August 18, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
John Hubert tore through the 2011 season and pounded his way through 2012. The 5-foot-7 running back played key roles in crucial wins for K-State football and has rushed for over 100-yards seven times as a Wildcat.
Going into his senior year, Hubert sits at No. 11 on K-State's all-time career rushing yards chart with 1,945 total yards, but he's only 15 yards behind breaking into the chart's top 10.
After consecutive 900-plus yard seasons in 2011 and 2012, this year Hubert has the opportunity to climb the chart into the top five and pass No. 5 on the list, former teammate Collin Klein, who finished his K-State career with 2,805 career rushing yards (540 more yards than Hubert currently has, if you're doing the math).
But breaking records and topping charts is just noise to Hubert, and he only has one number on his mind as he looks forward to the upcoming season.
That number is 1,000.
"I always think about it," Hubert said when asked if coming so close to the milestone of breaking 1,000 yards in a single season was still on his mind. "The past two years I came up short, 50 yards, 40 yards, and it's one of my goals as a running back. It's going to be one of my goals until I get it."
In 2012, Hubert rushed for over 100 yards in four of the team's first five games. His performance against Oklahoma played a key impact in the Wildcat's historic 24-19 win over the Sooners as he rushed 130 yards and scored one touchdown.
He pounded his way through the Oklahoma defense that night and postgame, to the reporters crowded around him in the stuffy Sooners' visitor's locker room, Hubert grinned and said, "It's what Coach Snyder is always telling us to do -- keep pounding, keep pounding. That was my key, just to keep pounding. Don't stop."
The remainder of his junior campaign, Hubert didn't stop. However, finishing the year with 947 rushing yards, 53 yards short of 1,000, he wasn't content.
Co-Offensive Coordinator Dana Dimel said the 1,000-yard goal looming over Hubert's head has only pushed him to train and work harder during the spring and the preseason.
"I think it's pushed him more during his offseason, his approach during fall camp," Dimel said. "Just understanding that it's a long stretch coming. John's always been a consistent performer, but he's got to be consistent over a longer length of time and I think he understands that. He's stepped up over the last couple years and really been a very explosive player for us."
But it's not only the idea of breaking 1,000 yards in one season that excited Hubert - if he has another 900-plus-yard season, he'd be sitting at No. 2 all-time in K-State rushing yard history behind only Darren Sproles.
"He's really got to take care of himself and his body so he can also get to that 905 mark that we mentioned to him earlier," Dimel explained. "It's a big one to put him as the second-leading rusher in the history of the program."
Going into his final season as a Wildcat, Hubert has been named to the preseason All-Big 12 team and is on Maxwell, Doak Walker and Tyler Rose Award watch lists. He said he is excited to see how the season unfolds, and with majority of the offense returning from last year, he has high hopes of continuing his success between the white lines.
However, while K-State does return seven players on its starting offense, the dynamic without last year's senior leaders such as Klein and wide receiver Chris Harper will be different. And when if comes to leadership on the offense, Hubert knows it is his turn to fill that role.
"(When) you lose people you have to have someone step up," he said, "and I feel like it's right for me to step up this year. I've been here five years, I know the offense and I believe that I've really stepped up into that leadership role."
He's ready to break records, ready to lead and ready to prove critics wrong. Coming in at No. 6 on the Big 12 preseason polls, Hubert isn't worried - K-State was also picked sixth last year, and he won't soon forget how the 2012 season turned out.
"Over the past few years, we've been sixth, seventh, eighth, somewhere in the lower rankings," Hubert grinned and said, "but like we do every year, we go out and we prove people wrong and that's what we're going to do this year, go out and prove everyone wrong again."