Josh Hubner was an all-state punter for Scottsdale Desert Mountain high school, and also played tight end and wide receiver for the Wolves, as well as defensive end and linebacker. Since he didn’t receive any Division I offers upon graduating he decided to go the Junior College route in hopes of landing a scholarship at the next level.
“It was a hard transition for me going into a junior college because I played so many positions in high school,” Hubner recalled, “and didn’t know what position I was going to play there. But those guys at Scottsdale were great and helped me out a lot. When they saw me punting the ball they said they wanted me to stick to that and that alone and obviously it worked out pretty well.”
Averaging 42 yards per punt as a freshman and 45 yards per punt as a sophomore Hubner was voted All-American in both of his years with the Artichokes. Subsequently, he received offers from Arizona, UNLV and Utah State. LSU was actually the first school to pursue him, but later opted to sign a punter out of high school. Miami (Fla.) was another program who inquired about the punter.
“ASU was always a school I wanted to go to,” Hubner acknowledged, “but I got the impression that they weren’t going after a punter in this class so I moved on.”
Luckily for Arizona State Hubner was still keeping his options open when the first contact was made by the Sun Devils.
“I got a call from a restricted number and usually something like that is a prank call,” Hubner recalled, “so I was hesitant to pick it up. When I picked up the phone the voice on the other end says: “Hi, this is coach Grady Stretz from ASU.’ And I’m thinking ‘sweet’! He told me that the team was looking for a punter and thought I would be the guy for the job.
“This really came out of nowhere and honestly was the last thing I expected.”
On November 21st the maroon and gold extended a scholarship offer.
“ASU is where my heart is at and it was a huge thing for me to get an offer from them,” Hubner noted. “I have been following this team for a long time and I almost feel like this is something that was planned for me.”
Hubner is familiar with ASU’s outgoing punter Trevor Hankins, as they both shared the same high school coach, Tony Tabor, in their respective schools. “Coach Tabor has probably helped me the most in my career,” Hubner commented. “He was always there to motivate me and kick my behind when things weren’t going my way and told me that I should always chase my dreams and keep plugging.”
Hankins’ last season with the maroon and gold was one of the best in school history, as he averaged 44.5 yards per punt and was ranked 17th in the nation at season’s end. Hubner is looking forward to filling in those big shoes.
“I’m gonna do the best that I can,” Hubner said. “I know that he was one the best in the nation and as long as I work hard I know I can be in the same exact position he was. I’m going to take advantage of my opportunity and do the best that I can with it.”
One trait that Hubner highlighted was that 75 percent of his punts were place inside the 20-yard line and all throughout his senior year he punted just once for a touchback.
“I self-thought myself to pooch punt like in Australian football and that really helped me place my punts inside the 20-yard line,” Hubner explained. “I worked very hard on my flexibility and I feel that I really improved on that with the help of the coaches at SCC.
“I’m looking to get stronger, put some more distance and hang time on the ball because I don’t feel that I have reached my full potential yet.”
Many college football pundits are already pegging the Sun Devils to have a breakout year in 2011 and are declaring ASU as the favorite to win the new Pac-12 South division next year.
Not that you needed to convince Hubner anyway of the maroon and gold’s prospects this coming fall.
“That is one the reasons I chose ASU. I felt very strongly that this next season will be their season,” Hubner remarked. “Last year this was the best 6-6 team in the country. I don’t believe that they should have been 6-6 because they were in every game but the Cal game and had a lot of close losses.
“They have a large group of returning starters and a bunch of seniors and I feel that all the buzz about next year is right and ASU will live up to the hype. I want to be part of something big like that.”
After all, for Hubner donning the maroon and gold isn’t just a validation of his all hard work and skills, it’s also about achieving a feat he has been yearning for quite some time.
“I grew up dreaming of playing in Sun Devil stadium,” Hubner said. “I got to play there at halftime when I was 12 years old at a Pop Warner game and now getting to play there…
“…I’m just on cloud 9.”