Sam Hubbard was engrossed in a dodgeball game during his high school gym class when Ohio State coach Urban Meyer walked through the door. A lot of heads turned Terrell Owens Jersey , including his.
And his sports career took a very different turn.
Hubbard doesn’t recall anything about the dodgeball game, other than the unexpected visit that changed so much. Hubbard went from an aspiring Notre Dame lacrosse player to a Buckeye football star and now a draft pick for his hometown team, the Cincinnati Bengals .
”I’ve had a winding journey to get here, and a lot of fun stories,” the third-round pick said Friday as rookie camp opened.
The 6-foot-5 defensive end was committed to playing lacrosse for Notre Dame – he was a midfielder on Moeller High School’s team – when Meyer showed up at gym class during his junior year. Hubbard also was a safety on the football team. Meyer was on a routine recruiting trip to see several prospects, and Hubbard’s gym teacher was Moeller’s football coach.
”Everyone in class was staring,” Hubbard said. ”To have Urban Meyer walk into your class was unexpected.”
Hubbard’s coach mentioned him as a potential Buckeye. Meyer watched Moeller’s game film and took note of him along with the others. Eventually, Ohio State offered a football scholarship and Hubbard changed paths, heading two hours up the road to Columbus instead of South Bend.
There were several more unexpected changes ahead.
The Buckeyes tried him at linebacker and tight end before deciding he’d be best as a defensive end, a position he’d never played. Hubbard was totally out of his element Danielle Hunter Jersey , but grew into the position, adding weight while learning what it takes to tackle an elusive running back and take down a quarterback.
He’d hoped to get drafted by the Bengals, but thought there was little chance of things working out so perfectly. That might have been the biggest surprise of all.
On Friday, he walked into their football-shaped locker room, heading past Andy Dalton’s locker on the right and Carlos Dunlap’s on the left, to find the one with his name and No. 94. Then he was off to an adjoining practice field, a short trek that felt surreal after all those years rooting for the Bengals.
”It’s insane,” he said. ”To come in here and see the locker, the helmet, to put on the jersey and go out on the field – it was a special moment.”
He’ll get a chance to work his way into the Bengals’ defensive line rotation as a rookie and become part of those big rivalry games he followed so closely as a youth – Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are on the schedule in four months.
Chase Big Ben around the field?
”Ha!” he said. ”I don’t want to get ahead of myself Brooks Reed Jersey , but that’s obviously the end goal. I’ve got to learn the playbook first and make a good first impression.”
Hubbard knows the franchise’s history of futility as well as anyone. The last time the Bengals won a playoff game was the 1990 season, five years before he was born. He attended Bengals games regularly as a youth. He knows about their run of five straight first-round losses from 2011-15, an NFL record for playoff futility.
Hubbard was in the stands at Paul Brown Stadium for one of their worst moments. Carson Palmer tore ligaments in his left knee when he was hit on his first pass against the Steelers on Jan. 8, 2006. Pittsburgh pulled away to a 31-17 win in the opening-round playoff game.
”That one’s burned in my head,” he said.
DRAFT PICK SIGNINGS
The Bengals signed four of their 11 draft picks at the start of rookie camp: fifth-round picks CB Davontae Harris and DT Andrew Brown, and seventh-round picks QB Logan Woodside and G Rod Taylor.
COME ON DOWN
The Bengals also signed 10 undrafted free agents for rookie camp: WR Devonte Boyd, Nevada-Las Vegas; DE Gaelin Elmore, East Carolina; OT Austin Fleer, Colorado Mesa; RB Quinton Flowers, South Florida; TE Jordan Franks Sammy Watkins Jersey , Central Florida; S Trayvon Henderson, Hawaii; LB Junior Joseph, Connecticut; RB Ray Lawry, Old Dominion; DE Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State; and LB Chris Worley, Ohio State.
First-round choice Quenton Nelson is one of nine draft picks who have signed with the Indianapolis Colts.
The announcement came Friday, the same day Indy opened its rookie mini-camp.
Nelson was selected No. 6 overall and is expected to start immediately at left guard.
The Colts also signed two of their four second-round picks – defensive ends Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis.
Running backs Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins, receivers Daurice Fountain and Deon Cain and linebackers Matthew Adams and linebacker Zaire Franklin also agreed to deals.
Terms were not immediately available.
Indy still has two unsigned draft picks, linebacker Darius Leonard and guard Braden Smith.
The Colts also signed free agent receiver Kasen Williams, claimed defensive end Rakeem Nunez-Roches off waivers from Kansas City and waived outside linebacker Josh Perry and receiver DeAndre Smelter.
Williams played in 10 games and made two starts over the past two seasons with Cleveland and Seattle. He has 10 receptions fo4 92 yards and one carry for five yards in his career.
The 6-foot-3 Dean Lowry Jersey , 307-pound Nunez-Roches played in 34 career games and started 16 in three seasons with the Chiefs. Last year, he started 11 times and finished with a career-high 24 tackles. He had 23 tackles, five tackles for loss and one sack in 2016.
Those moves follow signings earlier this week of free agent offensive linemen Austin Howard, a 6-7, 300-pound tackle who started 88 career games with four different teams, and 6-5, 236-pound defensive end Chris McCain, who has 34 tackles and seven sacks in his four-year career.
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