It's a characteristic that is necessary for any college football athlete to be successful. It's especially important for a college quarterback—whether it's the starting quarterback or a fifth-stringer.
Jake Hubenak has never gone into any situation preparing, talking or even thinking as a reserve quarterback. For most of the college football season, Hubenak, a junior college transfer, was Texas A&M's third-stringer who happened to get some minutes sparingly in five games.
On Wednesday, with the assist of big December decisions by the quarterbacks previously in front of him—former 5-star high school prospects Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray—Hubenak will lead the Aggies on the field against Louisville in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee. The third-stringer, confident and poised, will make his debut as a starter in arguably the Aggies' biggest game of the year.
No pressure, right?
If you know Hubenak, there's no pressure whatsoever.
"As far as Jake goes, it was just a matter of time," said Jason Dean, Hubenak's high school coach who watched him lose only once as a starter at Georgetown High School in Georgetown, Texas. "We knew [Hubenak starting] would happen; we just didn't know when.
"Jake's at Texas A&M because he wanted to be there, and he went there to be the starting quarterback. In his mind, he always felt he could be that."
High school and JUCO success story
In short, Hubenak's a winner. He was 19-1 as a starter at Georgetown. The only high school game he lost was the Texas Class 4A Division I state championship on Dec. 22, 2012, when Jerrod Heard—now the quarterback at Texas—and Denton Guyer outdueled Georgetown, 48-37. He threw for 4,108 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior—all after a junior season shortened by a knee injury.
Hubenak didn't sign with a school after high school but walked on at Oklahoma State and redshirted his freshman year in 2013. He left Oklahoma State and transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas—the same school that Cam Newton led to a national JUCO championship in 2009.
Hubenak didn't win a national JUCO title, but he did finish the 2014 season with 4,052 yards and 47 touchdowns in only eight games.
"Jake's always been successful," Dean said. "There's a certain type of attiude a quarterback has to play with. All the good ones I've been around have had a certain confidence with them, and Jake's no different. He's not a cocky guy at all, and he's always the guy who will put the team first and do things his teammates need him to do."
In his first game in a Blinn uniform, Hubenak introduced himself to JUCO competition in style with a 77-6 win against Southeast Prep. He completed 11 of 14 passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns—in limited play. In his fourth game, Hubenak lit up the scoreboard in an 80-0 rout against Arkansas Baptist, throwing 10 touchdown passes in the win.
Hubenak finished the year as an NJCAA All-America honorable mention. Blinn's offense averaged 506.5 yards a game, and he completed nearly 65 percent of his passes.
"Jake is very smart and a great leader," Blinn coach Keith Thomas told the Austin County News. "We were lucky to have him come through the junior college route."
Support within the team
Playing for Texas A&M was a dream of Hubenak's, as he's been a fan of the program since he was a young boy.
When it was time to choose his next FBS home in January of this year, it didn't matter that Allen, then a freshman, was considered the face of the immediate future, while Murray, then the nation's most coveted quarterback in the 2015 class, was considered the one to immediately challenge Allen.
When Allen was granted his release from Texas A&M on Dec. 10, it meant Hubenak was one step closer to his dream of being the Aggies' full-time starter. A week later, Murray announced his plans to transfer, which left Texas A&M with one scholarship quarterback—a hungry Hubenak—two weeks before the Music City Bowl.
And as hungry as Hubenak is to show his worth as a starter, he's received tons of support from his teammates.
"It will be an adjustment as it is when any new quarterback takes over an offense, but Jake is [a] great quarterback," center Mike Matthews told Mike Organ of the Tennessean. "From Week 1, when he was the third-string quarterback, he was always slinging the ball. He's got a great arm and I've said it all along, 'That guy's talented.'"
Defensive tackle Julien Obioha, during Sunday's bowl welcome party, said he knew there'd be fans who would panic about the quarterback situation. But Obioha is one of the first to support Hubenak as he prepares for Wednesday.
"In fall camp, I always thought Jake Hubenak was a great quarterback," Obioha said Sunday, courtesy of the Eagle. "I always thought he was competing in the quarterback competition. ... We had three great quarterbacks, now we have one great quarterback."
In five game appearances, Hubenak has completed 12 of 27 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Against Auburn on Nov. 7, Hubenak spelled Murray late in the third quarter and finished the game with 32 yards and a touchdown on 5-of-12 passing.
Now that he's had roughly two weeks to prepare, expectations are high for Hubenak.
"He's been in games and understands this offense," Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin told the San Antonio Express-News. "He's an older guy who has transferred, and his age and experience will help him with his preparation for the bowl. He's looking forward to having his time to shine."
Ready to show leadership
One of Dean's favorite memories of Hubenak came during the spring after his knee injury. The team was in the middle of a boot camp, and instead of resting, Hubenak was out with his team, pushing teammates in drills and doing whatever he could to make himself and the program better.
Hubenak's leadership ability is something that's never been questioned. In fact, Dean believes Hubenak's leadership skills will take him far as he continues his career at Texas A&M.
"He's the only kid at Georgetown in my time here elected to the team's leadership council as a junior," Dean said. "That's selected by members of the team; the coaches don't vote. Usually, it's all seniors. He was the first junior in my 11 years."
In addition to being a leader, Hubenak also is a huge X's and O's type of quarterback, according to Dean. He's tactical with his playbook, and he does his part in being the best game planner and game manager possible.
Add that in with his arm strength, speed, quickness and decision-making skills, and he's considered a legitimate candidate to not only play well against Louisville, but also become the permanent leader of the offense.
"He's been through it all already," A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital told the San Antonio Express-News. "He knows the highs and lows of what’s going on, and he understands the definition of being a team player. He understands everybody plays a role, and you have to commend Jake on how he handles all situations."
For someone considered a third-stringer less than a month ago, Hubenak has the opportunity to silence a lot of critics on Wednesday. He has the confidence of his coaches and teammates, and he has the confidence of his high school coach.
To Dean, it's just a matter of Hubenak lining up and handling business. As per usual.
"I'm not an Aggie, but I think that a field general has to be a leader for that team," Dean said. That's what they have in Jake. It's going to be exciting watching him start. He's remained patient and humble, but we all knew at some point he'd get his opportunity.
"He's not a rah-rah guy. You're not going to see him get overly emotional. But you will see him be that offensive leader they need. There's not a guy in the country that I'd put above Jake to get that done."
Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles