GRANDJUNCTION,Colo.-–Sophomore running back DJ Hubbard is having a breakout season, but with just four yards on the ground, it’s not in a traditional sense.
Where the 5-foot-8 back makes his presence known is in the passing game, but the road to success hasn’t been easy.
“DJ has had to go through some tough situations, and I think he’s grown up because of that,” head coach Russ Martin.
During 7-on-7 drills in the spring of 2012, Hubbard suffered a gruesome injury–one he’ll never forget.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Hubbard said. “I was going up for a deep ball. When I went up to jump for it, I actually planted off of somebody’s foot. Off the [defensive back’s] foot that was guarding me.
“It just felt like I sprained it at first, like I sprained it real bad. And then when I tried to get up, I looked at my foot and it was facing the other way. I was like, ‘Whoa.’ Kids got to screaming, and the ambulance had to get called.”
Hubbard immediately underwent surgery and began rehabbing, but got off to a slow start in 2012.
Fast forward to this season: Hubbard is second on the team in receiving with 152 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers through the first five games nearly match his season total from one year ago.
And that terrifying injury is a big reason for his success.
“He’s gotten mentally tougher,” Martin said. “He’s gotten physically tougher. He’s dealt with some of those injuries and come back, and I think, honestly, he’s pushed himself even harder getting ready for this season.
“I think he’s done a great job, and now you’re starting to see him climb into the limelight a little bit. He makes it extremely tough for people to play him 1-on-1 on pass routes. He helps add another dimension to our offense.”
The Mavs will look to win three in a row for the first time since 2009 when they host Western New Mexico Saturday afternoon.