Hubbard making most of opportunity with WildBy Jeffrey Lutz
The Wichita Eagle
Tywon Hubbard probably won’t finish off the trifecta of IFL weekly awards, but considering his versatility and skill set, it’s not entirely out of the question.
The Wild running back was named offensive player of the week after Wichita’s win over Omaha two weeks ago. The previous week, Hubbard was the special teams player of the week as he excelled in the return game.
Hubbard would have to become a two-way player to win a defensive award this week, and though that isn’t beyond his abilities, Hubbard is too valuable in his current positions for the Wild to add to his workload.
A rookie out of Central Missouri, Hubbard has adjusted quickly to playing indoors, where his talents have translated nicely after he got limited opportunities to succeed in college. He is second in the IFL with 1,177 all-purpose yards (with two fewer games than the leader) and has 16 touchdowns.
"I think the game is slowing down for me," Hubbard said. "Obviously it’s a different game for me after playing 11-man football my whole life. I’m actually getting accustomed to this game to where it can be good for me.
"I was always taught to slow down in 11-man because sometimes I hit the line of scrimmage so fast and didn’t let (plays) develop. In this, it’s different. You need to hit the hole and hit it now because it might not be there."
In the Wild’s record-breaking 77-point outing against Omaha on May 5, Hubbard was Wichita’s catalyst. He scored six touchdowns, running for five as part of his season-high 124 rushing yards and catching another from Phil Staback.
On April 28, Hubbard’s most significant contributions were made in special teams, where he returned five kickoffs for 132 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter of a win over Allen.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Hubbard identifies himself first as a running back. But the eagerness that hampered him at times in outdoor football serves him well as a special teamer.
"Even when I was little I liked to do kickoff returns," Hubbard said. "It’s another way I can touch the ball. I didn’t get to do it as much as I wanted to in college, but I got here and they looked at me as a guy who was dangerous with the ball in his hands."
After rushing for 615 yards and 5.2 yards per carry in helping Butler Community College win the second of two straight national titles in 2008, Hubbard moved on to Central Missouri, where he served as the backup running back for his final two seasons.
Hubbard had designs on starring for the Mules, but he was unable to build on the success he had at Butler.
"Obviously I think I’m bigger, stronger and faster (now), but I approached the game (then) with the same passion," Hubbard said. "I was doing really well, splitting time with other guys, but then it just stopped. I don’t know why."
There have been no such obstacles with the Wild.
Quarterback Marcus Jackson, who splits time with Staback, gives Wichita two running threats in the backfield, and the Wild has stayed ahead of defensive adjustments so far while vowing to remain true to its run-first philosophy.
"Like (coach Morris Lolar) has been saying all week, they’re probably going to want to stop the run but he wants to run it down their throats regardless," Hubbard said. "I definitely thing that’s the way we’re going to approach it. We’re going to hit them hard and hit them straight on with what we’re comfortable with."
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