Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (30) carries past Texas linebacker Juwan Mitchell (6) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Sue Ogrocki

Canadian running back Chuba Hubbard joins forces with Athletes First sports agency

Canadian running back Chuba Hubbard joins forces with Athletes First sports agency

Canadian Chuba Hubbard has secured some high-powered representation to negotiate his first NFL contract.

The former Oklahoma State running back has joined forces with Athletes First, a California-based firm that represents Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh Steelers rookie receiver Chase Claypool, of Abbotsford, B.C.

Last year it had eight players taken in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft — the most of any sports agency — including quarterback Justin Herbert (sixth overall to the L.A. Chargers) and linebacker Isaiah Simmons (No. 8 to Arizona Cardinals).

On Saturday, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy announced prior to the Cowboys’ game versus Baylor that Hubbard had opted out of the remainder of the 2020 season to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. Hubbard confirmed that via Twitter on Sunday.

The six-foot, 208-pound Hubbard, of Sherwood Park, Alta., hadn’t played since OSU’s 41-13 loss to Oklahoma on Nov, 21 due to an ankle injury.

Last year, Hubbard ran for an FBS-high 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns but opted to remain at school rather than declare for the 2019 NFL draft. In seven games this year, Hubbard had 625 yards on 133 carries (4.7-yard average) with five TDs.

The burning question remains whether Hubbard’s declaration comes a year too late considering he averaged 6.4 yards per carry in 2019. NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has Hubbard fourth on his running back list behind Najee Harris (Alabama), Travis Etienne (Clemson) and Javonte Williams (North Carolina).

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TOP HONOURS: Alaric Jackson, Iowa’s towering six-foot-six, 315-pound senior left tackle, was named a first-team All Big-10 selection.

The Hawkeyes (6-2) were scheduled to complete their regular season Saturday against Michigan (2-4) but that game was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa will now await a potential bowl selection.

In October, Jackson, of Windsor, Ont., was ranked No. 1 in the CFL Scouting Bureau’s top-20 list for the 2021 CFL draft.

Four Canadians were named to the second All-Big 12 squad.

Hubbard and OSU teammate Amen Ogbongbemiga of Calgary got the nod. Ogbongbemiga, a six-foot-one, 235-pound redshirt senior linebacker, has 76 tackles (47 solo, five for a loss) with 2.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries this season.

Also selected were West Virginia teammates Alonzo Addae and Akheem Mesidor. Addae, a five-foot-11, 195-pound redshirt senior cornerback from Pickering, Ont., had 61 tackles (33 solo, 0.5 for a loss) with a forced fumble and two interceptions while Mesidor, a six-foot-two, 268-pound freshman defensive lineman from Ottawa, registered a team-high five sacks with 29 tackles (17 solo, 6.5 for a loss).

Chase Brown, a five-foot-11, 195-pound junior running back at Illinois (2-5), was named a third-team All-Big 10 selection, Brown, of London, Ont., is the Illini’s rushing leader with 510 yards on 93 carries (5.5-yard average) with two TDs while adding five receptions for 30 yards.

Brown ran for 70 yards on 14 carries in Illinois’ 28-10 loss to No., 14 Northwestern last weekend. The Illini are scheduled to visit Penn State (3-5) on Saturday.

Toronto’s Mohamed Diallo, a defensive lineman with the Central Michigan Chippewas, captured All-MAC first-team honours. The six-foot-four, 305-pound Diallo had 19 tackles (nine solo, 9.5 for a loss), three sacks, a forced fumble in five games.

Sidy Sow, a six-foot-five, 336-pound junior offensive lineman at Eastern Michigan (2-4), was named to the All-MAC third team. The Bromont, Que., native started all six games at left guard for the Eagles, who accumulated 776 yards rushing this season and scored 11 of their 23 TDs on the ground.

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CHAMPIONSHIP QUEST: For the second time in three years, the Buffalo Bulls will chase a Mid-American Conference championship.

Buffalo (5-0) looked to successfully cap an unbeaten season Friday night versus Ball State (5-1) in the MAC title game in Detroit. The Bulls are making their third conference championship appearance, winning in 2008.

Buffalo lost the ‘18 final 30-29 to Northern Illinois as the Huskies (7-5) outscored the Bulls (10-2) 13-0 in the fourth quarter to register the upset win.

Dominic Johnson, a six-foot-five, 220-pound redshirt senior from Windsor, Ont., is a starting receiver with the Bulls who experienced the team’s 2018 heart-breaking loss. He had five catches for 43 yards this season — his second as a receiver after initially coming to Buffalo as a quarterback.

He’s one of four Canadians on Buffalo’s roster. The others include: sophomore tight Cole Burniston of Grimsby, Ont., and offensive linemen Deondre Doiron (freshman) and Gabe Wallace (sophomore) from London, Ont., and Salmon Arm, B.C., respectively.

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SUN BELT CO-WINNERS: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of the Sun Belt championship game between No. 9 Coastal Carolina (11-0) and No. 17 Louisiana (9-1).

The contest was slated for Saturday but the cancellation came following a positive COVID-19 test within Coastal Carolina’s program. Due to contact tracing, it was determined an entire position group would be unable to play due to possible exposure.

So the determination was made that the two schools would share the 2020 championship. Coastal Carolina was preparing to make its first appearance in the conference final since coming aboard in 2017.

Enock Makonzo, a five-foot-11, 195-pound redshirt junior linebacker/defensive back from Lachine., Que., has enjoyed a stellar campaign with the Chanticleers. He’s accumulated 66 tackles (team-high 41 solo, nine for a loss) with two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery.

Also on Coastal Carolina’s roster is Montreal’s Wilt Gabe II, a six-foot-three, 240-pound sophomore defensive lineman.

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OTHER FINALS: The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (10-0) faces Florida (8-2) in the SEC championship game Saturday night in Atlanta.

Alabama comes in off a 52-3 victory over Arkansas last week while Florida suffered a stunning 37-34 loss to LSU (4-5). Tide coach Nick Saban is chasing a sixth SEC title in nine seasons.

John Metchie III, a six-foot, 195-pound sophomore receiver from Brampton, Ont., had five catches for 72 yards against Arkansas. This season, Metchie has 40 receptions for 720 yards (18-yard average) with six TDs.

There’ll also be an interesting matchup Saturday in the ACC final between No. 2 Notre Dame (10-0) and No. 3 Clemson (9-1). The Irish won the earlier meeting this season 47-40 in double overtime but the Tigers were minus quarterback Trevor Lawrence due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Receiver Ajou Ajou, a six-foot-three, 215-pound freshman from Brooks, Alta., is on Clemson’s roster.

And No. 6 Cincinnati (8-0) hosts the No. 20 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (6-1) in the American Athletic Conference championship Saturday. Bruno Labelle, a six-foot-four, 248-pound senior tight end from Montreal, will suit up for the Bearcats.

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HULA BOWL INVITE: Canadian defensive back Benjamin St-Juste has been invited to the 2021 Hula Bowl.

The six-foot-three, 205-pound Montreal native had 10 tackles (three solo) in four games this season for the Minnesota Gophers (3-3).

St-Juste transferred to Minnesota in the summer of 2019 after graduating from Michigan. He played his freshman season in 2017 before redshirting in 2018 with the Wolverines.

The Hula Bowl is slated for Jan. 31, 2021 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

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EARLY SIGNING DAY: The NCAA early signing period began Wednesday, with a number of Canadians committing south of the border.

Among the early commits was Logan Taylor, a six-foot-seven, 295-pound defensive lineman from Bridgewater, N.S., who’ll attend Virginia after playing high-school football in Alexandria, Va.

Albert Reese IV, a six-foot-seven, 315-pound offensive lineman from Edmonton, committed to Mississippi State. Reese attended high school in Clearwater, Fla.

Toronto native Brendon Barrow, a five-foot-eight, 180-pound running back at Clearwater Academy, opted for Stanford while Malcolm Bell, a six-foot-two, 170-pound defensive back from Lachine, Que., decided upon UConn.

Tristan Michaud, a six-foot-six, 200-pound receiver from Mississauga, Ont., is off to Iowa State while Phil Jeffs, a six-foot-six, 280-pound offensive lineman also from Mississauga, will attend UMass.

Other commitments (according to canadafootballchat.com) include: Receiver Nickolas Tshivuadi of Edmonton (University of South Florida); Edmonton defensive back Cyrus McGarrell (Northern Illinois); tight end Antonio Corsi of Ottawa (Maine); Winnipeg defensive end Zachary Lytle (Dartmouth); linebacker Darius McKenzie of Ottawa (Maine); Winnipeg defensive lineman Nathan Carabatsakis (Robert Morris); defensive back Ethan Yip of Surrey, B.C. (William & Mary); receiver Nathan Demontagnac of Burlington, Ont., (North Dakota); defensive back Shakespeare Louis of Ottawa (Robert Morris); defensive lineman Tristan Marois of Saint-Bruno, Que., (Robert Morris); and defensive lineman Ebenezer Dibula of Ottawa (Bethune Cookman).

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SEASON FINALE: Canadian receiver Josh Palmer and the Tennessee Volunteers (3-6) will cap their season hosting No. 5 Texas A&M (7-1) on Saturday. The game was rescheduled from Nov. 14.

Tennessee is coming off a 42-17 win over Vanderbilt last weekend. Palmer, a six-foot-two, 210-pound senior from Brampton, registered four catches for 53 yards for the Volunteers.

Palmer, who has been invited to the Senior Bowl, has 30 catches (tied for the team lead) for 420 yards and four TDs (both tops among Vols receivers).

POINT AFTER: Isaiah Bagnah, a six-foot-four, 244-pound redshirt freshman defensive end from Lethbridge, Alta., had four tackles (two solo, two for a loss) and two sacks in Boise State’s 17-9 win over Wyoming last weekend. The Broncos (5-1) face No. 24 San Jose State (6-0) on Saturday … Jared Wayne had five receptions for 60 yards as Pitt (6-5) registered a season-ending 34-20 win over Georgia Tech. Wayne, a six-foot-three, 195-pound sophomore receiver from Peterborough, Ont., recorded 21 catches for 326 yards and a TD in eight games … Jesse Luketa, a six-foot-three, 242-pound junior linebacker from Ottawa, had seven tackles, 0.5 for a loss, in Penn State’s 39-24 win last weekend over Michigan State. Jonathan Sutherland, five-foot-11, 202-pound redshirt junior safety also from Ottawa had three tackles, 1.5 for a loss and half a sack.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2020.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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