Mavs’ Jack of all trades
Speed gives Hubbard an edge at many positions
He plays running back, slot receiver and is on all of the special teams.
If there’s a place for a short, quick football player, DJ Hubbard is there.
“He does a bunch for us,” Colorado Mesa defensive back Michael Brady said. “The term ‘athlete’ is the best way to describe him. Speed’s so valuable in today’s game. To have a guy like him is the definition of speed and agility. He brings a whole different element that’s unreal.”
Hubbard runs a 4.38 40-yard dash, but he hasn’t had an opportunity to utilize his speed — yet.
“We’re finding ways to get him the ball,” CMU coach Russ Martin said. “We’ll continue to use him in different things.”
Hubbard grew up in a single-parent home in Phoenix with his mother, who shuttled him to football practice and constantly reminded him to believe in himself despite his small stature.
“I’m definitely a momma’s boy,” Hubbard said. “She took me to practice when I was 6 years old. She’s the one that encourages me to keep my faith and confidence and push through. That’s helped me as a player from a mental standpoint to stay level-headed.”
The 5-foot-8, 160-pound redshirt freshman proved he could play football, rushing for close to 2,000 yards during his senior season, but he didn’t get many scholarship offers with his short frame.
“DJ is a great young man to be around,” Martin said. “He is a fun guy to have as a part of this football team. He’s an exciting player. He has stepped up and really excelled in blocking. He’s finding ways to make plays on special teams for us.
“He is happy-go-lucky, but intense on the field. He’s confident in himself.”
New Mexico State offered him some scholarship money, but Hubbard waited for more. He called the New Mexico State coaching staff back, only to find out they gave his offer to another player.
That’s when the former Colorado Mesa coaching staff called Hubbard and wanted him to take a campus visit.
He took the visit and the partial scholarship offer. He redshirted last year, learning as much as he could.
“It was good,” Hubbard said. “I needed to develop. It helped me a lot.”
Martin immediately looked at using Hubbard’s speed in several ways, similar to the Miami Dolphins’ Reggie Bush.
“I went against him on scout team all last year,” Brady said. “If he gets the ball in open space, he’s so hard to corral. He’s a very dynamic player.”
Hubbard says he’s more comfortable at running back, but he realizes playing several positions provides him the best opportunity to get on the field.
“Obviously my stature prevents me from doing that in an every-down situation,” he said of running back. “That’s why I’m glad I play slot as well, so I can get better at that standpoint.
“This offense gives me an opportunity to get out there in space and use my speed,” he added. “I’ve been itching to bust a long run. I feel like it’s coming. I think I had a couple opportunities this last game, but I didn’t take advantage of it like I should.”
He’s yet to make a big play on offense — he’s rushed for 50 yards with a long gain of 13 yards and caught eight passes for 44 yards with a long of 15 — but he’s come up with a few big plays on special teams. Hubbard has blocked two field-goal attempts this season, and he returned a blocked point-after attempt for a two-point conversion last week against New Mexico Highlands.
“I’m the contributor, I guess I would say,” Hubbard said. “I try to make plays wherever I can.
“It’s demanding. There’s a lot to know, but I like it. It gives me a chance to do as much as I can for the team.”