Paul Hubbard has the type of ability college coaches dream about. The redshirt freshman wide receiver is 6-foot-4, 208 pounds and is an elite athlete. As a true freshman last year, he won the long jump at the indoor and outdoor Big Ten Championships, was one of the conference's best triple jumpers and ran a 10.66 in the 100 meters. Over the summer he won the triple jump at the USA Junior Championships and placed 10th at the World Junior Championships.
The trick for Hubbard, however, is to make the transition from being an athlete first to being a football player who just happens to be an exceptional athlete.
"I think he's progressing nicely," receivers coach Henry Mason said. "He gets better every day. He just needs to stay with it. If he stays with it, keeps working at it—and he's got a great attitude—and learns how to play football, I think he's got a chance to be really good."
Hubbard was on a track scholarship last year and thus not allowed to touch the football field. After a year of practices as a walk-on, Hubbard was told following spring workouts that he had earned a football scholarship. He will continue to compete in track and field but as a walk-on.
Hampered by an injury, Hubbard got off to a slow start in fall training camp this August but still managed to work his way into the depth.
"It's real tough," Mason said of Hubbard's football learning curve. "First of all he hadn't played for a year. And then to step back on the field and step into playing in the Big Ten, that's a big task. He gets a little better, he gains something every day. Hopefully he continues to do that and at some point in time we are going to throw him in the water and see if he can swim."
Hubbard has played in mop-up time this year at receiver and has occasionally worked in during the heat of the game, playing in five of six contests (he traveled with the team but did not see action Saturday at Ohio State).
"I just want to make sure that I put him in a situation where he can succeed," Mason said. "I don't want to take any steps backward. You put him in in a situation that doesn't go good for him, then all the work you've done, you lose it.
"We're very, very patient with his progress. At some point in time we are going to take the training wheels off and see if he can ride the bike."
Hubbard on the move
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