The premise: Football is suddenly banned today.
The reaction: Sam Hubbard barely blinks.
“I’m really interested in investment banking, and also sales and trade in the stock market,” Ohio State’s fourth-year junior defensive end said. “I’ve been educating myself constantly through my years in college, just gaining more and more knowledge in the field, and dabbling a little myself in stocks.”
He smiled broadly, because not only is he just a couple of months away from gaining his degree in finance from Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business, but he also has been investing in the stock market since high school at Cincinnati Moeller.
In the summer of 2016, that interest took a serious turn when he was invited to take part in a three-day internship on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs.
“It was awesome,” Hubbard said of the experience he shared with fellow OSU players Joe Burrow and Austin Mack. “They flew us out there on a Tuesday, we stayed for three days, we got to meet a lot of executives, higher-ups. And everyone was just excited to meet Buckeye football players.”
The feeling was mutual, Hubbard said.
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“We got to talk to some really high-up guys in the organization that most people would really never have the chance to meet,” he said. “So I learned a lot of information plus met a lot of good people.”
It was a hookup facilitated in part by Ohio State alumnus and Goldman Sachs executive Jim McNamara. The connection was gained through coach Urban Meyer’s implementation of the “real life Wednesdays” program and annual job fair in which players are exposed to speakers from various realms — business, legal, political, social — to emphasize the need of having a post-football plan.
Hubbard has been working on his plan for years. Make no mistake, he wants a career in the NFL before that. He has been projected as a possible first-round draft pick in 2018 should he opt to leave following this season; after redshirting as a freshman, he has a season of eligibility remaining.
But the world of finance, specifically the investment side, has intrigued him for a while. His father, Jim, is an attorney and has worked for several banks; he's now with Everbank, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.
Jim Hubbard appreciated the credit, but he said he watched Sam’s interest piqued back in high school as he followed the rise of an older cousin, Griffin Naylor, from Notre Dame to a position with a firm on Wall Street, and eventually to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“He was a big influence on Sam,” Jim Hubbard said. “And of course I’ve been in banking for 30 years, so he and I have talked about it. And I’m from New York, and I’ve worked on Park Avenue in finance.
“We used to go to New York every summer and I’d take him to the city. He was thinking about getting into medicine, so I think it was a tossup, but finance fit better with his schedule. But he’s a smart kid and he had great training at Moeller in math to help prepare him. So in finance, he did really well.”
At Ohio State, Sam Hubbard has managed to maintain his focus on academics, despite the demands of football. He has been recognized as an OSU scholar-athlete since his first year, and last school year he was named a first-team Academic All-American, just the 30th OSU player so honored, but the the third in the past three years.
“I’ve always taken care of my classwork,” Hubbard said. “You just have to have priorities.”
That’s one reason he returned for his fourth year at OSU, despite many speculating he was going to leave for the 2017 NFL draft. He wanted to finish work on his degree before taking his next sports career step, because he knew that degree would help him not only manage his money if he does make in the NFL, but also benefit his career after football.
Toward the latter goal, he also had a one-day shadow experience with JPMorgan-Chase Bank in Columbus earlier this year. But it was the trip to Wall Street and time spent at Goldman Sachs that struck his fancy.
“They are the elite — like coach Meyer says, they are the Ohio State Buckeyes of the financial world,” Hubbard said. “They are very prestigious, and just seeing the caliber of people that work there, brilliant people who are very personable, and they work in a skyscraper in the Financial District, everything about it was really cool.”
The trip to the New York Stock Exchange trading floor was the capper, because he saw firsthand that while a lot of thinking, reading, typing and talking on the phone is part of the job, there also is a physical element akin to sports.
“Just seeing the action, the noise, it was exciting and stimulating, because there’s a lot going on,” Hubbard said. “You’re not just sitting at a desk all day. … I think that’s why a lot of athletes have found success on the sales and trading floor.
“That’s why I could see myself there, because I don’t want to sit at a desk all day. I want to be involved in something exciting. There’s a lot on the line all the time, it seems, making million-dollar trades. It can be very stressful but also very exciting, definitely not boring.”