A reporter called Sam Hubbard “Joey” Wednesday night. Hubbard shook off the mistake. He’ll have to get used to the comparisons.
Even on a team with Joey Bosa’s younger brother Nick, Hubbard is the player most likely — this season at least — to remind fans of the All-American defensive lineman who now sits in limbo as an unsigned draft pick of the San Diego Chargers.
“I’m pretty close with him,” Hubbard said Wednesday after practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “I know it’s killing him. He’s a football player. He loves to play football. I’m sure he’s heartbroken to not be able to be out on the field.”
It’s the opposite story for Hubbard, who will see the field more than ever this season as a redshirt sophomore. He started the season opener last season at Virginia Tech when Bosa was suspended and earned plenty of playing time the rest of the season as a backup, finishing with 28 tackles and 6½ sacks.
It was no surprise when coach Urban Meyer revealed Monday Hubbard’s parents would get a call to let them know Hubbard had secured a starting spot. Hubbard, a Cincinnati Moeller High School graduate, said he was on a three-way conference call with his parents and defensive line coach Larry Johnson this week.
“It was a great moment,” Hubbard said. “They were really proud of me. Making them feel proud was a great moment for me. It was a really nice thing coach Johnson did. They were just so excited. They’re already coming to every game, but they just felt happy for me because they know how hard I worked.”
Hubbard played a career-high 55 snaps in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 when Bosa was ejected from the game for targeting. That moment and his first start at Virginia Tech helped prepare him to start the season opener against Bowling Green on Sept. 3 at Ohio Stadium.
“I had to prepare the whole season like I was the starter,” Hubbard said. “That’s the mindset of everyone on the defensive line. That’s what coach Johnson preaches. You have to get to game speed in practice and be ready because any moment your number could be called like it was last year.”
Notes: Walk-on kicker Tyler Durbin is the latest player to have the black stripe removed from his helmet. He kicked a 62-yard field goal in practice Tuesday. Freshman or new players have the stripe removed when they prove they’re worthy of being Buckeyes. … Freshman linebacker Keandre Jones, freshman safety Jordan Fuller and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Joshua Alabi had their stripes removed Monday.