Wyatt Hubert made the first four tackles of his Kansas State football career against Mississippi State last week. That alone made it a memorable game for the redshirt freshman defensive end. Add on an interception, which set up a touchdown for the Wildcats on the following play, and, well, it’s hard to describe just how special Saturday was for him.
“It was awesome,” Hubert said. “I was glad I was able to get some juice for the team and help the offense punch it in a few plays later. I am just glad I could help out.”
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Hubert, a Shawnee Heights product, did much more than help out. He was one of K-State’s few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable 31-10 loss.
It didn’t feel like a fluke. Hubert rotated in at defensive end throughout the game and found ways to impact plays even when he wasn’t recording stats. He made Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald move around in the pocket a few times and narrowly missed a tackle for loss on running back Kylin Hill in the first quarter.
You don’t usually see that kind of production from a freshman in K-State’s defense, but no one is surprised to see Hubert making an impact at a young age.
The former three-star prospect has been at K-State for nearly two full years. He graduated from a high school a semester early and moved from Topeka to Manhattan in time for 2017 spring practice. Then he sat out a year with a redshirt and made his presence known on the scout team.
“I have been here for a year and a half, playing in practice. I have a lot of experience against our offensive line,” Hubert said. “I am further ahead than any redshirt freshman, which is really beneficial. The coaches are really on me hard about being responsible, doing my job, being self-disciplined. I thank them for that, because it has helped me on the field.”
It only felt like a matter of time before that progress showed up on game day.
“The kid has just got a motor,” K-State linebacker Sam Sizelove said. “He reminds me a lot of Ryan Mueller. He is a stud. Right now, he is just kind of fine-tuning things. But I knew he was going to be a player for our defense this year and, you know, his interception was incredible and big for this defense. I’m really glad we have him.”
Hubert has been far from perfect. His name didn’t show up on the stat sheet against South Dakota, and he was occasionally caught out of position against Mississippi State. But he had more good plays than bad plays.
His interception was arguably the biggest highlight of the day.
On the play, K-State linebacker Elijah Sullivan pressured Fitzgerald into a bad throw on a blitz. Hubert saw the ball coming to his right, tipped it up into the air and then secured it with both hands for an interception. Next, he ran 11 yards up field and celebrated like he just came up with the first turnover of his college football career.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” Hubert said.
K-State coach Bill Snyder likes that attitude.
He sees big things in Hubert’s future, even if this was his first step in that direction.
“Wyatt is a very competitive, hard-working young guy. He’s got one speed, and it’s the one that you like,” Snyder said. “He still has to learn how to control himself in that regard. By that I mean he gets himself out of position, which happened numerous times throughout the ballgame, because of his aggressive play. You have to be aggressive and still be in the right place at the right time doing the right things. He is going to be a fine player. He just has to learn how to be where he is supposed to be.”