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WVU OL Ja’Quay Hubbard Displaying ‘Team First’ Attitude About Move from Tackle to Guard



WVU Football OL Ja’Quay Hubbard

The offensive line is West Virginia’s strongest and most experienced unit, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t aspects of it that will look different than last year. That’s where Ja’Quay Hubbard comes in.

And Hubbard’s body isn’t the only change in his game over the last year. The Hermitage, Pennsylvania native didn’t just lose over 100 pounds, he’s also been learning a new position on WVU’s line.

After detailing his weight loss journey in the spring, it was time for Hubbard to talk about adjusting to a new role. He’s shifting over from tackle to guard, where he will play in 2023.

WVU OL Ja’Quay Hubbard: ‘When I Think of Penn State, I’ll Take the Salad’

With Doug Nester and Wyatt Milum securing the two tackle spots, Hubbard, who played right tackle in 11 games in 2022, was forced to pivot to guard . Fortunately, guard is not completely unfamiliar territory for Hubbard. He was a guard in high school, granted it’s been since his sophomore year at Sharpsville High School.

“I just like coming out of a three-point stance,” said Hubbard about what makes him like the guard role. “I graduated from Sharpsville High School. We ran the Wing-T all four years I was there, so I’m just a gap-down backer-type guy, hand in the dirt. That’s kind of why I fell in love with the game.”

Hubbard is still practicing at tackle, just in case his services are needed there too. Offensive line coach Matt Moore wants every member of his line to be as versatile as possible and be able to fill in a gap if someone either struggles or is out with an injury.

With that said, Hubbard knows it’s now being a guard that’s going to earn him starts and playing time. “I’ve been doing that for the last couple months from spring to fall camp,” he said. “It’s been great for me. It’s been a great learning tool. I have to really hone-in on, like I said, the playbooks, the techniques, and I’m going against a different body type every day.”

Hubbard is a team first player, willing to do whatever he’s best for the line as a whole. And being an optimist, Hubbard explained why he believes his time at tackle is actually helping him to at guard. He truly feels you have to have confidence in yourself in order to have success.

“Having the experience at tackle, honestly, has helped me in the transition to guard because after going against athletic guys and longer guys on the edge, you’re going against more shorter, wider guys inside,” Hubbard said. “If you can get your feet in the ground with my long arms, I should be able to shut them down pretty easily.”

Being versatile would not have been an option for Hubbard a year ago. Losing weight and getting into the best shape of his life allows Hubbard to be flexible, both literally and figuratively, and adapt to any situation, much like being asked to switch positions in the middle of his college career.

The fact he perfected how to maintain his ideal weight has made him a teacher of sorts to other lineman or teammates in general who need to get to improve their body. When asked how he goes about mentoring others struggling with weight issues he said, “I try to give people tips, but I sometimes have to remind myself that ‘dude, they don’t want to lose weight like you’ and to calm down a little bit” with a big smile.

However, Ja’Quay Hubbard can empathize with anyone who can’t seem to quit the unhealthy foods they love so much. “Sometimes I want fried chicken, sometimes I want a salad. When I think of Penn State, I’ll take the salad,” he joked about WVU’s season opening game in State College. It serves as some extra motivation for everyone on the Mountaineers, but especially for Hubbard as he looks to prove himself all over again.

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