Sam Hubbard (6), Cincinnai's own, is a Bengal.
When Sam Hubbard was a student at Cincinnati’s Moeller High School and hadn’t committed to play football at Ohio State, he called Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and wound up speaking to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis as well.
“He happened to call Urban on the phone when I was on the field visiting with him,” recalled Lewis after Hubbard became a Bengal five years later. “And Urban said, ‘Guess who I’m standing here talking to? You’re going to come and play for the Buckeyes and then you’re going to have a chance to play for your hometown Bengals.’”
“That was a great recruiting tool,” said Hubbard. “I thought that Coach Meyer had great connections. He put Marvin Lewis on the phone – the guy who has been the coach at Cincinnati pretty much my whole life.”
Meyer’s prediction came true on Friday night when the Bengals selected the Ohio State defensive end in the third round with the 77th overall pick.
“It’s incredible,” said Hubbard. “I really didn’t see this coming and the way that it worked out where I get to stay home is something that I’ve never even dreamed of. To represent the city of Cincinnati like I’ve tried to do my whole life – this gives me another opportunity and I’m going to give it everything that I’ve got.”
Sam was an all-state safety and lacrosse standout at Moeller who arrived in Columbus as a linebacker and tight end before gaining size and strength and moving to the defensive line. He thrived up front in three seasons with the Buckeyes as Hubbard had 17 sacks and 29.5 tackles-for-loss before bypassing his final season of eligibility to turn pro.
“Sam jumps off the film with his passion and how hard he plays,” said defensive line coach Jacob Burney. “Every play from start to finish. That makes a difference to me and it makes a difference to him. The first thing he said to me on the telephone was, 'Coach, I'm going to give you everything that I've got.' That's all he knows.”
“It’s a relentless style of play,” said Hubbard. “It’s angry. It’s 100 miles an hour on every snap.
“I had an opportunity to work with Grant Wistrom and Grant was the same way,” said defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. “Just hard-charging, going to give you everything he’s got on every play and he was a really good football player for us in Seattle. I said to Sam, ‘You kind of remind me of him.’ And he was like, ‘Who’s that?’ But the bottom line is that he’s got a great motor and is a really good technician as a football player. I don’t know if you’ll find a guy that plays harder than him.”
The Bengals will look for Hubbard to move into the defensive line rotation as a rookie and take some of the 401 snaps that Chris Smith played last season before leaving in free agency.
“Sam gives us an opportunity to put some more people up front on the defensive line and continue with that rotation and fill a spot there,” Lewis said.
“I think that they saw a really good base end that can do a lot of different things,” said Hubbard. “A guy that can sub-in on those rush situations and get inside and outside in their four-man fronts and do different things. And also get into the rotation this year just to help the guys and compete for playing time.
“The defense that they run in Cincinnati is very similar if not almost exactly the same as what we did at Ohio State. I brought that up on my visit to Cincinnati so I feel like I’m already a step ahead in learning the playbook. Now it’s time to get to work and show them what I can do.”
Hubbard grew up a Bengals fan and looks forward to lining up with established stars like Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.
“Those are some Pro Bowl players and they’re incredible,” he said. “They’ve been in the league a long time and what I’m going to do is keep my mouth shut and go hard and work my butt off just to show them that
I’m here to play and to contribute. Whatever they have to say, I’m going to listen to and try to do whatever I can to help the team and contribute to that defensive line group.”
The 22-year-old helped lead Moeller to consecutive Division I state titles as a junior and senior and was a red-shirt during Ohio State’s 2014 national championship season.
There’s an obvious goal remaining.
“The last thing I need is a Super Bowl and I'm committed to doing everything I can to make sure that happens here in Cincinnati,” he said.