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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Jake Hubenak: Last man standing

Photo by Photo by Bryan Johnson

Sophomore quarterback Jake Hubenak looks for an open receiver during Texas A&M’s Saturday loss to Auburn.

The year was 2014, and Jake Hubenak was looking for a place to play football. After walking on for one season at Oklahoma State as a true freshman, Hubenak was on the market when he decided it was time for a change.

That’s when the relationship he forged the year before with fellow high school senior and current Texas A&M receiver Damion Ratley at the Texas High School Football Coaches Association All-Star game paid dividends.

In that game, Ratley had a phenomenal outing, snaring seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. When the freshman wide receiver from Yoakum arrived at the Blinn campus, he told the coaching staff about the quarterback who connected with him in that game. That quarterback happened to be Hubenak, who will make his first career start on Wednesday against Louisville in the Music City Bowl.

“He told us about this quarterback, this kid from the All-Star game,” Blinn head coach Keith Thomas said. “I knew [director of football recruiting] Johnny Barr from Oklahoma State, so I called him and he told me how good of a player [Hubenak] was and what type of kid he was.”

Thomas brought Hubenak and his parents to Blinn shortly thereafter, offered him a scholarship and by spring, the young quarterback was already on campus.

Hubenak likely would have earned a scholarship from a big-time school straight out of high school, where he had been a star at Georgetown High, but an injury wiped out most of his junior season. The injury not only kept him from playing on the field, but it also resulted in lost interest from several Division I programs.

However, Hubenak rebounded in a big way, salvaging his high school career by having an outstanding senior campaign. He threw for over 4,000 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior, leading his Eagles to the state championship game.

That game proved to be the only loss of his high school career — he finished 19-1 as a starter — but he still threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns.

When Hubenak came to Blinn, there were already seven other quarterbacks on the roster. However, that did not stop him from making an instant positive impression on the Blinn coaching staff.

“When Jake came in, we got all the quarterbacks together and starting doing drills, and we knew he was special,” Thomas said. “We knew he was a smart kid, very mature kid for what we needed to do.”

Hubenak quickly moved up the depth chart and was the Buccaneers’ starter for the 2014 season. Running a wide-open version of the Run and Shoot offense that the University of Houston made famous back in the late 1980s and early 90s, Hubenak put up video game-like numbers.

Throwing for six or seven touchdowns in a game became just another day at the office for Hubenak. In one game, an 80-0 blowout victory over Arkansas Baptist, Hubenak threw for 600 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“He’s so smart and knew where to go with the ball at the right time,” Thomas said. “And he’s just a winner. He’s a great kid, and he doesn’t like to lose.”

It took Hubenak all of four games to shatter the single-season records that Cam Newton set during his time at Blinn in 2009. And what makes Hubenak’s numbers even more impressive is that the Bucs had only eight games on the schedule. Had they played the normal ten, his numbers would have been even higher.

“I watched him here, and he broke every record here, was an All-American,” Thomas said. “The stuff he did was [done] in eight games. If he’d have played ten games, he probably would’ve set records that would never be broken.”

However, it wasn’t Hubenak’s big arm or his eye-popping statistics that stood out to Thomas. It was his indefatigable work ethic and willingness to prepare that was most impressive to his junior college coach.

“He’s in the office every day watching film, he’s a kid that studies the game,” Thomas said. “I knew that when [A&M] started recruiting him that they ran the same [offense] that Oklahoma State did, so he would have an advantage as far as already knowing the offense.”

Sure enough, when Hubenak was being recruited by Texas A&M after the 2014 football season, the knowledge he had gained in his stops at Oklahoma State and Blinn was on full display.

“When they brought him up to visit, they took him into the office and started talking offense, and he already knew what they were doing and was kind of explaining to them exactly where he’d go and do the right thing,” Thomas said. “I think that really impressed them to realize that they had a junior college kid coming in that already ran the offense and that this would be a pretty good situation for him.”

Hubenak also showed his grit and fortitude off the field when he was trying to become eligible at A&M for the 2015 season. He had to take nearly two years worth of classes in his one year at Blinn, and because he did that, he was able to remain a sophomore for this season and still has two years of eligibility left after 2015.

Although Hubenak was set to compete with two five-star quarterbacks like Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, it didn’t keep him from moving up the depth chart.

In some games, the coaching staff placed Hubenak as backup. He replaced Allen after he struggled against Ole Miss, and then he relieved Murray in the Auburn game. In limited action, Hubenak completed 12-of-27 pass attempts for one touchdown.

Some might consider those numbers underwhelming, but the sophomore signal-caller has still managed to impress his Aggie teammates.

“He’s a great quarterback,” senior center Mike Matthews said. “From week one when he was a third-string quarterback, he was always slinging the ball. He has a great arm and I always said that that guy is talented. I think he can get the job done for us. He’s been put into that role right now and I have no doubt that he’ll do great for us.”

Star defensive end Myles Garrett echoed a similar tune, saying that Hubenak is talented enough to show the country that the Aggies can still thrive without the two transferred QBs.

“He can throw the ball as well as I’ve seen, he can throw the ball as well as anybody,” Garrett said. “The show goes on. We can’t let [quarterback transfers] deter us from our goal and our mission. If they want to go, then that’s fine. But we’re going to stay here and play hard and show that nothing has changed. We’re still a great team and will be a great team.”

Hubenak will get a chance to show the the nation what he can do on Wednesday against Louisville. The Cardinals have an athletic and talented defense, but if the past is any indication, Hubenak will be up for the challenge.

“He’s very intelligent, and I guarantee you right now he’s studying Louisville,” Thomas said. “He’s going to know what they’re doing. Jake will be prepared and he’s a big-gamer, so I think he’ll have a great game.”

Hubenak has not yet completed a pass to Ratley — who came to A&M in the same recruiting class as Hubenak — as an Aggie, but the bowl game would be a good place to start. After all, Ratley had a hand in getting Hubenak to Blinn, which looks like a blessing at this point.

Even with the exit of two highly-touted throwers, the mood appears to be positive in the Aggie locker room, and the departure is said to have only brought the team closer.
“I’ve said it since day one,” A&M senior defensive tackle Julian Obioha said. “We had three great quarterbacks, now we have one great quarterback.”

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