Colorado State has revved up the commitment train leading up to National Signing Day, adding three more 3-star commitments from last weekend's group of official visitors. Arkansas defensive end David Porter and California wideout Warren Jackson verbally committed to the Rams just days after the visit. Seeing as how he couldn't wait until longer to announce his allegiances to the Green and Gold, Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive lineman Ellison Hubbard publicly announced his intentions to join Mike Bobo's signing class next week as well.
Hubbard, who weighed in at close to 6-foot-2, 267-pounds this weekend, said CSU encompassed everything he was looking for in a school. His parents thoroughly agreed, too.
"When we went out to eat and talked to the coaches, my parents, getting to know the wives and the coaches and their families, that's really what got me to commit," Hubbard said. "As long as my parents and I feel comfortable with them, you know, getting their numbers and being able to talk to them, that was just everything I needed.
"The weather and everything was not how I thought it was going to be. You know, it was cold, but the views were very beautiful up there. I love their campus and the football stadium they're building. That was real nice to see. The main thing was hanging with the players and coaches and getting to know them. It feels like family up there."
Hubbard spent large chunks of his time in Fort Collins with CSU's coaches, as well as many players in CSU's soon-to-be sophomore class. Rams cornerback Robert Awunganyi served as Hubbard's player-host.
"Man, it felt like my team down here. Going out, hanging out and talking to them, they were telling us about football up there at CSU. Just getting to know them was nice. I got to meet Collin (Hill), the quarterback, then Arjay (Jean), one of the d-linemen. They're some real cool guys."
CSU tight ends coach Joe Cox recruited Hubbard tenaciously over the last year. Cox has spent a large portion of his time on the recruiting trail in the Peach State, often taking time to reach out to Hubbard or stop by Grayson.
In the end, like every other recruit, is was a team effort by the Rams' staff in landing Hubbard, as Bobo and defensive line coach Ricky Logo were among the other key pieces in securing Hubbard's commitment.
"We talked most days of the week," Hubbard said of Cox. "Every weekend he would give me a call. We'd talk and have a good conversation. He showed me how much they really wanted me to come be a part of their program. Our relationship was pretty strong.
"They've been coming at me since last year, my junior year. We've been talking back-and-forth. I never really had a chance to go visit them until now. They were up there in my top five and I knew I was gonna visit them. When I got the chance to visit them last week, it felt like home. I loved the place, so I wanted to commit. I first talked to my parents to make sure this is the right place and I committed Monday night, but didn't post it 'til today (Thursday)."
CSU plans on using the Georgia Class 7A State Champion in a variety of ways along Logo's defensive line. Hubbard played nose tackle for Grayson in a 3-4, and CSU has plans to use him similarly. With his size and skill set, he will probably see time at strongside defensive end as well.
"They love my explosiveness and how I have experience with that defense. We played the same defense down here at Grayson. They believe I can play both tackle and end. If I just put on about 20 more pounds, which I'm starting to get ready right now, because I have a high chance of playing this upcoming season."
Hubbard collected numerous Power Five offers early on in his recruitment, which included offers from Boston College, Indiana, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Wake Forest.
The athletic lineman took official visits to Virginia and Tulane before visiting CSU. With various coaching changes since then, Hubbard said he knew for sure that offers still stood from Arkansas State, Buffalo, CSU, Georgia State, Rutgers, and Tulane.
Grayson lost its season-opener to national powerhouse IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), but ultimately won its final 14 games, including a state championship come-from-behind win over Roswell. Hubbard helped the Rams with 58 total tackles, 8 sacks and 28 quarterback pressures on the year, which earned him honorable mention all-state, first team all-county and a trip to the Gwinette All-Star Game.
"When we lost our first game to IMG, I was like, 'wow, we've got a lot of work to do.' Then we ended up going 14-0 after that loss. I thought we were gonna be state champions. Against Roswell, we were down and didn't score until the second quarter. I was wondering if we were going to be state champs. But we pulled it out. That was huge for me. After playing two years previous, we wanted to win the state championship each year, but we came up short. But when we finally finished, that was huge for me. I laid in tears on the ground after that game, because all that hard work I put in my whole high school career from freshman year to now, and to win a ring and be the first 7A champs, that was huge."
Former CSU Ram-turned NFL hopeful Fred Zerblis also won a state title in his final season at Grayson. Hubbard met Zerblis recently and said he liked the fact Zerblis played all four years as a Ram.
"I believe I can do the same thing he can," Hubbard said.
It's been a long journey for Hubbard on the recruiting front, but he is thankful for the opportunity ahead and excited to sign his letter of intent with CSU on Wednesday.
"Oh man, it's very exciting. I'll be a Ram for life, as people tell me. It's really, really a blessing to be committed to a school and go play football at the college level. It's been a long recruiting trip, but now that I found my home, I'm ready to go right now," Hubbard said. "It feels good to be a Ram."
Hubbard will sign his NLI alongside his Grayson teammates at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Wednesday.