Panthers choose Chuba Hubbard, tying record for most Canadians picked in 1 NFL draft


Chuba Hubbard’s patience was finally rewarded Saturday.

The Oklahoma State running back from Sherwood Park, Alta., was taken by the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round, No. 126 overall, of the NFL draft.

Hubbard’s selection was notable in that he was the fourth Canadian drafted, tying the 2014 record for most Canucks picked. And with Iowa tackle Alaric Jackson of Windsor, Ont., and Oklahoma State linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga of Calgary both still on the board, there’s an opportunity for that mark to be eclipsed.

Hubbard had to wait two days in order to hear his name called as the first-round selections were made Thursday night, followed by the second and third rounds on Friday.

The six-foot, 208-pound Hubbard ran for 625 yards (4.7-yard average) and five touchdowns last season. After missing two games with a high ankle sprain, he decided to opt out of the remainder of the ’20 campaign and declare for the draft.

It wasn’t the ending Hubbard envisioned when he decided to remain in school after leading American university football with 2,094 yards rushing (6.4-yard average) and 21 TDs in 2019.

36-inch vertical jump

But Hubbard proved earlier this month at Oklahoma State’s pro day he’s healthy again, posting an official 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds although some social media reports had him running under 4.40 seconds.

Hubbard also registered a 36-inch vertical jump, 4.26-second short shuttle and 20 reps in the 225-pound bench press.

Three Canadians were taken Friday night.

  • Oregon safety Jevon Holland, of Coquitlam, B.C., went in the second round, No. 36 overall, to the Miami Dolphins.
  • Minnesota cornerback Benjamin St-Juste, of Montreal, and Tennessee receiver Josh Palmer, of Brampton, Ont., were taken in the third round by Washington and the L.A. Chargers, respectively.

Oregon safety Jevon Holland of Coquitlam, B.C., was among three Canadians drafted Friday night. (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

St-Juste slowly coming to grips with being NFL pick

Even after sleeping on it, St-Juste was having a little difficulty coming to grips with the realization he’s a full-time football player.

“I’m always someone who takes a bit more time to just reflect on everything, call up my mom and dad and just chat about it,” St-Juste said during a video conference Saturday. “It will probably be the next few days when I really realize what I did.

“But my mind is always on the next thing, keep working and keep working.”

St-Juste said he had multiple meetings with Washington officials throughout the draft process but was somewhat surprised to have been drafted by the franchise.

“When I talked with my agent, there were different teams that were supposed to pick me but they ended up getting a corner,” St-Juste said. “I think [Washington] has a specific plan for me.

Resilient

“I think I might not just play corner, I might be moved around inside at safety, all around. I don’t know yet about the specific plan but I think that’s it.”

The six-foot-three, 205-pound St-Juste, 23, played in five of Minnesota’s seven games this season. He registered 14 tackles and broke up three passes while earning academic All Big-10 honours.

St-Juste has certainly shown resiliency during his football tenure. He began his college career at Michigan, playing as a freshman in 2017 before red-shirting in 2018 due to a hamstring injury that ultimately affected his scholarship status.

He transferred to Minnesota in 2019, appearing in all 13 games (starting nine) and finished tied for the team lead with 10 pass breakups.

“I think [adversity] played a big role in my journey,” he said. “Going through barriers, going through adversity, that shapes your character, that shapes your personality, and it gets the best out of you.

“It shows if you really love football and I love football and so I went through it and came out stronger. I still have this chip on my shoulder and I think it put me in the position I am today.”

St-Juste’s father, Wilbert, played safety for the University of Miami in 1989.

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