PFB - How a Top NFL Running Back Inspired Mike Gundy to Let Chuba Return Kicks

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OP News

Feb 17, 2018
On Thursday, LD Brown and Chuba Hubbard said they “begged” Mike Gundy to let them return kicks. And apparently he has acquiesced. According to Friday’s depth chart, Brown and Chuba will in fact be the kick returners.

This is nothing new for either of course. Chuba led the team in 2018 with 23 returns for 22 yards a pop, and LD returned a pair for 37 yards total. Nobody else on the team returned more than two last season.

Last year was last year though. Chuba wasn’t RB1 to start the year, and LD wasn’t going to get meaningful reps in the backfield unless something really (REALLY) bad happened. This year? They’re Nos. 1 and 2 on the depth chart at running back as well.

Gundy said on Friday that it was actually former Penn State superstar

“You don’t see as many of them now with the rule changes, but they want to be back there so let them have at it,” said Gundy. “Let them work together. They want to try to touch the ball as much as possible.”

The new rule changes Gundy spoke of is the one that allows a player to fair catch a ball inside the 25 and get it on the 25. He also said it was No. 2 NFL Draft pick Saquon Barkley who helped settle his soul when it comes to Chuba.

“I kind of went back to what they did at Penn State with Barkley,” added Gundy. “He was back there the entire year. Are there concerns? Sure, but those concerns are somewhat less if they want to be back there and they want to do it. Anything can happen at any time so they want to play it, they want to do it. They’re fast, they’re physical, let them have at it.”


Gundy is referencing Barkley’s final season in which he only returned 15 kicks but for 28 yards a hit and a pair of TDs, including this one against Ohio State.

Chuba still hasn’t broken one — it feels like he’s broken about eight of them — and his best game last season was against Iowa State where he returned four for 102 yards. But if he does anything remotely like what Barkely did there above against Ohio State, I may not make it.

Overall I think this is fine. I’ve been critical of Gundy for being too conservative in special teams so I can’t turn around and be critical. I think it provides a little juice — maybe as much with LD since he’ll be kicked to more than Chuba — and shows you’re about playmaking and not just ball protection.

That’s something we haven’t gotten enough of over the last few years so hopefully the move pays off, and OSU gets its first kick return since … Tyreek Hill did it against Kansas in October 2014.

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