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Ja’Quay Hubbard Opens Up About WVU Football’s Cultural Shift, Clearing Out ‘Energy Vampires’



WVU Football Ja'Quay Hubbard and Garrett Greene celebrate a touchdown against UNC in the Duke's Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Dec. 27, 2023. (Mitchell Northam / WV Sports Now)

It takes more than just talent to build a consistently successful program. Creating the right culture is just as important. WVU offensive lineman Ja’Quay Hubbard discussed this very topic during a recent appearance on the “3 Guys Before the Game” podcast.

“Neal Brown is successful because he focuses on culture first and foremost. If you don’t have culture, you don’t have anything,” said Hubbard. He then touched on how he’s seen a big shift in culture throughout his time as a Mountaineer, and how it’s no coincidence the improvement in the culture has coincided with more winning on the field.

“I can speak from experience. When I first got here to the present, the culture is night and day.” When prompted to elaborate on that by hosts Tony Caridi and Brad Howe, Hubbard said the WVU football program doesn’t have as many “energy vampires” around. Hubbard clarified that “energy vampires” is something the veteran players calls guys who are always complaining, making excuses and squashing any of the positive vibes that may exist.

These comments from Hubbard are interesting, but in no way surprising and are even supported by what head coach Neal Brown has said, especially throughput the past year, about some of his regrets bout his first few years in Morgantown. Brown even admitted he wishes the current portal rules were in place in 2019, allowing him to clear out players he feels were culture problems on a WV Sports Now show. He said “it’s taken years to cleanse” the program at that time.

“We would have flipped the roster more in 19. The rules weren’t the same, but if I had the rules that are there now, I probably would’ve been a little more aggressive,” said Brown.

Neal Brown Feels It’s Taken Years to ‘Cleanse’ WVU Football Locker Room

WVU went 8-4 in Brown’s predecessor Dana Holgorsen’s final season in Morgantown in 2018, but then finished the 2019 season with a 5-7 record. The next season in 2020 Brown did go 6-4, capping it off with the only bowl win of his time at West Virginia. His team finished 2021 at 6-7 with a bowl game loss and ended 2022 with a disappointing 5-7 record. Obviously, the vibes are better now coming off a 9-4 season and a bowl win over North Carolina.

Hubbard’s first year at WVU came in 2020 as Brown was going into his second season.

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