Stanley Hubbard and James Madison simply needed each other.
The former Connecticut offensive lineman announced his decision to join the Dukes via Twitter late Sunday, and on Monday night Hubbard said he sensed JMU coaches were as eager to recruit to him as he was intrigued by the school.
“There was just mutual interest from the start,” Hubbard said. “And everything was just cut and dry with the coaches.”
He said Dukes coach Curt Cignetti, offensive line coach Damian Wroblewski and defensive coordinator Corey Hetherman all worked to recruit him during the transfer process.
Hubbard, a 6-foot-3, 293-pounder, appeared in 10 games over three seasons with Connecticut and started last month in the Huskies’ loss to Temple in their season finale. He was on track to become the team’s starting center next season had he stayed with the program.
But Hubbard, a product of St. John’s College High School (Washington, D.C.), will play out his remaining two years of eligibility closer to home with the Dukes. JMU graduates two interior offensive linemen – center Mac Patrick and right guard Jahee Jackson – after this season.
Hubbard said he thinks he’ll fit well in the offensive system JMU uses.
“When you run the ball like that, it’s a lineman’s dream,” Hubbard said. “You can get down and get physical, especially me being a center-guard. That’s just going to help me try to get to my pro aspirations. I was talking to Coach Wrobo and he was like, ‘As much as you could help us, we can help you.’”
And it wasn’t just Wroblewski, Cignetti and Hetherman showing and explaining to Hubbard all they thought JMU had to offer, according to the offensive lineman. He said a former high school rival, Dukes defensive end Jalen Green, played the role of ace recruiter.
Green played at Good Counsel High School (Olney, Md.). The two programs, Good Counsel and St. John’s College, have captured two of the last three Washington Catholic Athletic Conference football championships.
“What they were telling me about the school I basically already knew from Jalen,” Hubbard said. “So it was just about making everything official.”
Hubbard said he plans to bring all he learned during his time with the FBS Huskies to JMU in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. He’ll sign his Letter of Intent on Wednesday and enroll in January, so he can practice with the Dukes this spring.
“Contrary to everybody else, I think [Connecticut coach Randy] Edsall is a great coach and a great teacher,” Hubbard said. “So I thought at UConn, it’s just about hard work and to keep working through tough times because there wasn’t a ton of great times as far as football. But it was just to keep your head down and keep working with a blue-collar mentality because we were kind of a blue-collar team, so I just want to take that work ethic over to JMU and combine that with the winning culture they have there to create a lot of success.”