The Carolina Panthers took a franchise record 11 players in last weekend’s NFL Draft. Among those were two players with unconventional stories added to the roster as the newest rookies in the league.
Chuba Hubbard went to Oklahoma State looking for an opportunity to play a different game. The Canadian-born running back spent three years as a starter for Bev Facey Community High School in Sherwood Park, Alberta, picking up the game of Canadian football. He was a standout in the rural area of the province who rushed for 6,880 yards with 82 touchdowns and committed to OSU as a change of pace.
As a sophomore, Hubbard had one of the best seasons in Oklahoma State history. He led the nation in almost every rushing statistical category and was a finalist for both the Doak Walker and Walter Camp Awards. A near 2,000-yard season with a solid performance in week 8, leaving a lasting impression on then-Baylor head coach Matt Rhule.
But he wasn’t the only one in awe of Hubbard’s skillset.
Matt’s wife, Julie, called a shot of her own 10 minutes prior to the Panthers taking the former Big 12 offensive Player of the Year. She sent a text to her husband saying he and first-year general manager Scott Fitterer better draft Hubbard with the team’s fourth-round selection.
Ask and you shall receive, Julie. And the rest was history with a great story between Rhule and Panthers owner David Tepper.
Out of the 259 picks, one player who wasn’t expecting to hear his name called was Thomas Fletcher.
The long snapper from Alabama thought Matt Rhule was joking when he was told he would be playing for the Panthers. Especially, given how late Fletcher was taken off the board in the seventh round. However, once his nerves calmed down, the Patrick Mannelly Award winner was ecstatic to learn he was coming to Carolina.
Panthers rookies and veterans report to camp on July 27 at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The first official practice of training camp is scheduled for that day as well.