By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
If you go back a decade or so, the Moeller Crusaders were doing what they had done so often in the 70’s and 80’s. They were winning state titles. After a long hiatus big Moe got their mojo back. They were led by Sam Hubbard. In his senior season at Moeller, Hubbard recorded 109 tackles and 5 interceptions leading Moeller to state titles. Hubbard is now trying to do for the Bengals what he did for the Crusaders a decade ago in winning a title. It hasn’t come easy for Hubbard. His first few seasons in a Bengal uniform were met with team underachieving and losing.
Hubbard has now established himself. He has established himself in the community as a difference maker and as a solid football player that never left Ohio. After starring at Moeller, the Bengal defensive in went 100 miles north. He took his talents to Ohio State where he was part of a fierce pass rush that featured 2019 first pick of the draft Nick Bosa. After a stellar 2017 season where Hubbard put up 7 sacks for the Buckeyes, he declared for the 2018 draft. Many had projected Hubbard to be a 1st or 2nd rounder of the 2018 draft. He eventually went in the 3rd round to the Bengals.
Hubbard hit the ground running in his Bengals career. Not only that he has gotten increasingly better. The former Buckeye posted 6 sacks his first season in 2018, followed by an 8 ½ sack season in 2019. The injury bug did hit him hard as he faced his first in injury adversity. Now healthy Hubbard, who enjoyed putting quarterbacks down more than 7 times last year en route to a Super Bowl appearance, has 2 thus far in 2022. The Bengals were so satisfied with Hubbard’s production thus far as a Bengal that they rewarded the former Moeller product with a new 4-year, 40 million dollar contract, including a 10 million dollar bonus. Hubbard, along with Tre Hendrickson, form one of the NFL’s most formidable end duos in the league.
After a slow start, Hubbard and the Bengals have now gotten back on track and have evened their record at 2-2 and a share of first place in the AFC Central division. A huge game looming with the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday in Baltimore will establish first place in the division.
Not many players get to play their high school, college, and pro ball in the same state. The Bengals happen to have two players who have done so. Punter Kevin Huber played at McNicholas High School in Cincinnati and University of Cincinnati, and has played in more Bengal games than anyone in history. Recognizing and acquiring hometown talent is one thing the Cincinnati Bengals have never lacked.