December 4, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
Going into his senior season, John Hubert knew all eyes would be on him.
The talented Wildcat running back recorded back-to-back 900-plus rushing yard seasons his sophomore and junior years, and after losing last year's leading rusher, quarterback Collin Klein, Hubert knew it would be upon his shoulders to lead his team on the ground this season.
But things didn't quite work out in the beginning of the year for Hubert. He opened his senior campaign rushing for only 25 yards in K-State's home-opener loss to North Dakota State. The following week, he rushed for 56 yards on 18 carries against Louisiana.
His season ebbed and flowed as he recorded 118 rushing yards in the Wildcats' win over Massachusetts, but it was followed by a 41 yards against Texas and 30 at Oklahoma State.
Despite shining in 100-plus yard games against both Iowa State and Texas Tech, nothing hit Hubert harder than his performances in his final two games in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
"Sometimes I just wanted to give up," he explained.
In K-State's games against TCU and Oklahoma, Hubert recorded 25 yards on six carries and 17 yards on nine carries, respectively, and he was beginning to feel invisible.
"I was like, 'Man, this is my last year, I'm not touching the ball, and I'm a senior,'" Hubert continued. "Coming in with all the hype that I was going to be the vocal point of the rushing game, of the attack, and then some games I touched the ball four maybe five times, it was frustrating. But I talked to my mom, and she always tells me to keep my head up, that God has a plan and everything is going to work out. So I just listen to that - and it came big today."
Perhaps the best way to cap off his senior campaign, whatever doubt was in Hubert's head was quickly lost after he rushed for a career-high 220 yards in the Wildcats' 31-10 win over Kansas last Saturday.
He had fun. He finally felt like himself again.
"The offensive line did a great job staying on blocks and creating big holes for me," Hubert said in Lawrence after defeating the Jayhawks. "We just went out and played the game. We had fun on the field, and it looked like the old K-State. That's what I'm the most proud of."
Hubert's 220 yards on 30 carries (also a career high) put him at a total of 2,913 career rushing yards - second all-time to Darren Sproles (2001-04) who finished his career with 4,979 yards.
"It was the first time I touched the ball 30 times, so I was loving it," Hubert said. "To go out, have a great victory in a great game, it was a big thing."
It was the best game by a K-State running back since Daniel Thomas rushed for 269 yards against North Texas in 2010, and Hubert's now 11 career 100-yard rushing games put him at third all-time behind Thomas (2009-10), who recorded 12.
After the game, head coach Bill Snyder pulled Hubert aside for a few words.
"I just got through talking to John. I told him how proud I was of him," Snyder said after the game. "He ran extremely hard and that's what has been important for him. He reads holes pretty well, so sometimes he gets caught dancing. Today he didn't. He got his pads down and spun off of blocks and ran hard. I'm really proud of his effort."
Hubert was humbled by the compliments from his legendary coach, and said the conversation with Snyder was among his favorite moments with the K-State football program.
"He told me it was the best game that I ever played, that I was a good back and that he's grateful to have me here at K-State," Hubert said. "It meant a lot coming from Bill Snyder. I've been here five years, and it was probably one of the most inspiring things he's said to me as far as just one-on-one talk. I'm just happy that he looked at me that way."
Now at 968 total rushing yards this year, Hubert is only 32 yards away from his long-time goal of 1,000 yards in a season.
He will have the opportunity to reach that goal at the Wildcats' upcoming bowl game, and he will have the opportunity to break another goal he and his senor teammates have set their minds to.
"It's one of my goals. I've been here five years, been to three bowl games and we came out short," Hubert said. "For the seniors, we want to go out and get this bowl victory, and (the win at KU) is great momentum. We came out, and we ran the ball well. The offensive line is feeling good, I'm feeling good about myself, and we've got a month to rest up, so whoever we play, hopefully we can do the same thing we did today."
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, Mark Janssen or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.