After three years at Ohio State, redshirt junior defensive end Sam Hubbard has decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and declare for the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Cincinnati native made the announcement through Twitter on Saturday afternoon, the day after the Buckeyes’ 24-7 win over USC in the Cotton Bowl.
— Samwise (@Sam_Hubbard_) December 30, 2017
Land of 10’s Austin Ward wrote a column suggesting that the defensive end go to the NFL after Hubbard participated in the Senior Tackle usually reserved for guys heading into their final matchup in The Game against Michigan, starting the speculation that he was leaving.
“It was just an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up,” Hubbard said at the time. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do next year; I’m just focusing on winning a Big Ten championship. It’s just an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up if I do make that decision.”
He did, however, hold off from going to the NFL after the 2016 season, when he announced on Twitter he was staying after the team’s loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff.
Hubbard played his final game for the Buckeyes in the Cotton Bowl against USC, racking up 4 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks. He finished his career with 116 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and 17 sacks.
Before the bowl game, Hubbard said he would play, and when he was asked if the thought of not playing had crossed his mind, he said, “Not in my mind, nope.”
According to Land of 10’s mock drafts, Hubbard is projected to go in the first round at No. 23, where he’d be taken either as a defensive end or linebacker.
Hubbard is versatile, making him a large part of Ohio State’s defensive front. He comes off the edge but also can drop back as a linebacker.
That is because he played safety in high school, came to the Buckeyes as a 4-star linebacker, played tight end and linebacker for part of his freshman season, and then moved to defensive end.
“It has come together really nicely,” Hubbard said before the season. “Telling me to drop, they didn’t really have to coach me up much. I already know what I’m doing. Telling me to rush from a linebacker’s stance, it’s like a D-lineman coming from depth. It’s really a good blend, and I think they’re really helping me show my skill set to benefit the team.”
After redshirting in 2014, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound player started one game in 2015 and played in the next 12, registering 28 tackles with 8 for a loss, 6 1/2 sacks and an interception.
Last year, Hubbard started every game and had 46 tackles with 8 for a loss and 3 1/2 sacks.