What just over a year ago appeared to be a bright professional football future for Wyatt Hubert came to an end Saturday before it ever got off the ground.
Hubert, a Topeka native and former two-time all-Big 12 defensive end at Kansas State, announced his retirement Saturday on social media, citing "physical health reasons." He was the No. 235 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, but a preseason injury forced him to miss his entire rookie year.
"After many conversations with my coaches, medical staff, agents and family, I have decided to step away from the game of football and retire from the NFL," Hubert wrote. "It has been a tough decision to make.
"The root cause of this decision is my physical health. Unfortunately, I have dealt with many injuries that have taken a permanent toll on my game, body and performance on the field."
Hubert, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound former Shawnee Heights High School standout, entered the NFL Draft following his junior year at K-State. He started all 10 games in a 2020 season shortened by COVID-19, leading the Wildcats with 13 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.
For the second straight season, he was a first-team all-conference selection and received votes for both defensive player and defensive lineman of the year. Hubert ended his K-State career with 94 tackles, 34 tackles for loss and 20 sacks.
Cincinnati chose Hubert in the seventh round of the draft, but a torn pectoral injury suffered before training camp sidelined him for all of 2021. Still, he was expected to be in the running for a 2022 roster spot before choosing to retire.
"This decision has been difficult and humbling as I have been blessed to have made it to the NFL and be drafted by a great organization in the Cincinnati Bengals," Hubert said. "Although the game of football is over, the things I've learned from football will be with me always — the values, morals, beliefs, and especially the friendships.
"I want to thank everybody who has helped me and who has been with me through my career. It's an experience that I will never forget. I wish nothing but the best to my coaches, staff, teammates, the Brown family and Bengals Nation."
Hubert signed with K-State and hall of fame coach Bill Snyder in 2017 as a three-star prospect out of Shawnee Heights, where he was ranked as the nation's No. 29 strongside defensive end by Rivals and the second-best player in the state of Kansas by ESPN. He was a first-team all-state selection by both the Topeka-Capital Journal and Wichita Eagle.
After redshirting in 2017, Hubert started seven of 12 games the following year — the last season for Snyder, who announced his retirement in December 2018. USA Today named him to its Freshman All-America team.
Hubert became a full-time starter as a sophomore in 2019 under new coach Chris Klieman, recording 33 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
Arne Green is based in Salina and covers Kansas State University sports for the Gannett network. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @arnegreen.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Former Kansas State football defensive end Wyatt Hubert retires