Russell Hubbs Citadel

Citadel linebacker Russell Hubbs has eight tackles, two for loss, and a sack this season. Jim Killian/Citadel Athletics

As befits a world champion powerlifter, Eric Hubbs has quite the weight room in the garage of his Rock Hill home. And his son, Russell, was just a kid when he started prowling around the squat machines and weight benches.

"He started sneaking weights on the squat machine when he was eight," said Eric Hubbs, a nine-time world champion in the bench press. "He said, 'Dad, I want to lift weight.' He developed a love for the weight room early on."

Russell Hubb's early love for the weight room earned him the nickname "Moose" and put him ahead of his peers as he became a standout wrestler and football player at Northwestern High School. He also won national and world championships in powerlifting.

"I started when I was little and just fell in love with it," said Russell, now a 6-1, 220-pound redshirt junior on The Citadel's football team. "My dad had made the garage into a gym, so I just tried to help him out with his thing until I was old enough to lift myself."

Eric Hubbs was careful with his son in the weight room. Russell had to perfect his squat and bench-press techniques by lifting a broom stick before he could put any weight on the bar.

"I did a lot of research and homework on that aspect of it," said Eric Hubbs, who is chairman of the S.C. and N.C. chapters of the American Powerlifting Federation. "The whole thing is to use common sense, you'll be okay. It's when you get too involved in putting up high numbers for your son or daughter that you get in trouble.

"Russell started at an early age squatting with a broom stick, and he didn't like that. He wanted that bar on his back and weight on the wall. But I was strict and wanted him to learn proper technique and proper form."

Russell was an age-group world champion power lifter from 2009-11 and won the teen national championship for the American Powerlifting Federation in 2012. 

The training also made a difference on the football field, where Russell was an all-state player at Northwestern, voted team captain as a junior and senior and finishing his career with 255 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 32 games.

"He was ahead of his peers in weight-training," Eric Hubbs said. "That's what happens when you grow up with a bunch of old power lifters in the gym."

The early weight training paid off again when Russell Hubbs reported to The Citadel.

"Russell came in with a good foundation of sticking with a training routine and pushing himself day in and day out in an intelligent way," said Citadel strength coach Donnell Boucher. "He had that already, where a lot of kids come in and the adjustment is tough."

Power lifting and training for football or other sports are very different, however.

"None of these kids are recruited to be weight-lifters, so our training process fits what they will be doing on the field," Boucher said. "Power lifting is about moving as much weight as you can for one rep over a short range of motion. When you are training athletes like football players, you want to take the body through full range of motion, and that's different.

"But if you have that foundation of discipline, you can adapt to whatever changes you need to make."

During the course of Russell's Citadel career, Boucher and Eric Hubbs have traded training tips, and Eric Hubbs has donated equipment to Boucher's weight room.

"I'm really happy with what Coach D has done with Russell and with all the guys," Eric Hubbs said. "I've seen the difference in performance of the guys in the weight room from when we first came down there; not just the football players, but in every sport."

After redshirting as a freshman, Russell Hubbs appeared in 23 games as the Bulldogs won Southern Conference championships in 2015 and 2016. Playing the KAT linebacker position this season, he had a season-high four tackles in last week's 24-14 loss to Mercer, and came up with a sack in the Bulldogs' 31-25 win at ETSU.

The 22nd-ranked Bulldogs (3-2, 1-2) will try to snap a two-game skid at home against No. 5 Wofford (5-0, 3-0) on Saturday.

"The season's not over yet," Russell Hubbs said. "We're positive and we're grinding every day. The goal is to win every game we have left."

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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