Passing QB's return from injury gives opposing defenses more to think about
by: STEVE BRENNER Portland State's Drew Hubel launches a pass in the Vikings' season opener last week against Southern Oregon.

Drew Hubel will be remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play at Portland State.

Although snake-bitten with injuries, Hubel's statistics are astounding. In just 20 starts, he is fifth in PSU all-time passing yards (6,358), and sixth in touchdowns (42) and completions (482). He also has the school records for single-game passing yards (623) and completions (44). In one glorious game against Weber State in 2007 he tied a national record with nine TD passes.

Hubel does not spend much time thinking about all that he has accomplished for the Vikings, though.

'For me, it's really about winning the next ball game,' he says.

Hubel missed all of the 2010 season while recovering from surgery on his knee and right throwing shoulder. Last Saturday, in the Vikings' 52-0 home win over Southern Oregon, he stepped onto the field for the first time in nearly two years. Although he began shaky, he finished the afternoon having completed 13 of 22 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown.

The 6-5, 205-pound senior from Corvallis High never doubted that he would be back.

'I didn't think it was ever going to be an issue,' Hubel says. 'It was just a matter of how soon.'

Hubel is second string, behind fellow senior and close friend Connor Kavanaugh. The Vikings 'pistol' offense favors a mobile quarterback like Kavanaugh to a dropback passer like Hubel. But, with Hubel's ability to stretch the field and shred secondaries, he figures to get a lot of playing time this season.

'He has definite strengths,' Vikings coach Nigel Burton says. 'And if we're playing someone that we need his strengths in the forefront, he's a guy that can come in and get it done.'

Kavanaugh points out that the combination makes it more difficult for opposing teams to game plan for the Vikings.

'Drew is going to sit back there and dice the defense with his arm,' Kavanaugh says. 'And me, probably a little bit of the opposite. So teams always have to prepare for both.'

Even when he is not in the game, Hubel's football IQ is an invaluable asset for the Viks.

'Drew is so experienced at playing quarterback that he's like another coach out there,' Kavanaugh says. 'I always ask him during practice and during the games, 'What did you think of that read?  Did you see the same thing?' '

Even though he is competing with Kavanaugh for playing time, Hubel is selfless enough to do anything he can to help out the team.

'I know it sounds cliché, but I want to be able to positively affect the team any way I can,' Hubel says.

As the Vikings look to make 2011 a season that heals the wounds of two consecutive 2-9 campaigns, Hubel's life away from the football field is stretching out before him. In June 2010, he married his high school sweetheart, Jacquelyn Graves. This summer, Hubel - a criminology and criminal justice major - did an internship with the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives branch of federal law enforcement.

He is using that to guide him in applying for jobs. But he has not ruled out seizing an opportunity to play football after college. His prolific passing ability would seem to make him a perfect candidate for arena or Canadian football.

'If I get an opportunity to go on, I will,' Hubel says. 'To get that opportunity, I need to play well now. I'm not really thinking about those kinds of things. But if I do play well enough and someone thinks I have the ability to play on then I'll follow through with that. But it's not a make-or-break situation.'

For now, Hubel will wait for his moments on the field.

'I'm dedicated to staying prepared,' Hubel says. 'You're only one play away from being on the field. As far as where I was, getting back to that level is just a matter of plugging back into the speed of the game, getting a quick reaction and building the muscle memory to be able to run the offense.'

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