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Jake Hubbard was always bound to do what he’s doing now.
The California senior running back and linebacker was just a defensive player last season, stuck behind a slew of really talented running backs in Cal’s ground and pound system under head coach Eric Billeci.
But, after some players graduated and left the program, an opportunity arose for Hubbard. In addition to being a linebacker, he could be a standout running back.
As soon as he was able to get in reps after waiting his turn, Hubbard was loose, and Cal’s coaching staff – under a new regime in Danny Calcagno, who changed the scheme to a spread offense – knew they had something special.
“I think he’s always been a good running back,” said Cal head coach Danny Calcagno. “It’s just that Cal High had had some pretty good guys in the years past. Ideally, we’d like to be able to have guys go one way, but we’re just so thin. Hubb has got great feet, great vision. Like on that last touchdown, we didn’t block a guy, and he made the guy miss.
“He’s just a good football player. He’s the heart and soul of our football team.”
In Cal’s 38-31 overtime win over Monte Vista on Saturday, Hubbard showed just how crucial of a piece he is to the Grizzlies’ success, lifting a program that is 2-1 overall ranked No. 17 in the Bay Area Football Rankings heading into Saturday’s tilt at No. 8 San Ramon Valley.
He finished with 21 carries for 166 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning score in overtime to give the Grizzlies the huge win.
Hubbard credits much of his success to the big boys up front.
“My o-linemen, 110%,” Hubbard said. “I can’t do anything without my o-linemen. They open up holes big enough for semi-trucks to drive through. It just makes my job really easier.”
And the production is there in every aspect of the game, in every single game.
Through three contests, Hubbard leads the Grizzlies with 277 rushing yards and six touchdowns while averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He also has 96 receiving yards on six catches, featuring a 78-yard reception in the season-opening 63-33 victory over Dublin.
Every day, during the offseason and the season, Hubbard talks to his grandfather, who is a driving force in his play.
“Every day he gives me a call, coaches me up,” Hubbard said. “He’s just a second love to the game. He just keeps me motivated, keeps my head on track and keeps me going.”
A couple of schools have reached out to Hubbard about playing at the next level, and he said he is keeping his options open.
What Hubbard is focused on this week, though, is doing something Cal has not accomplished in his four years at the school.
“I really want to beat SRV,” Hubbard said. “My kids in my grade, 2021, has never beaten SRV. It’s our goal to beat them this year, but I feel like if we keep our head down, keep grinding we can accomplish it.”
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