McPherson High football coach Jace Pavlovich believes Emporia State has signed a hidden gem with the addition of versatile Bullpup senior Klayton Goering.
Goering signed his letter of intent during a ceremony at the school on Thursday. He’ll be joining another former Bullpup as Marcus Houghton will be one of the spearheads of the Hornets’ defense in 2016.
Goering played running back and linebacker for the Bullpups, but Pavlovich can see him playing about anywhere on the field.
“Klayton is a kid that has a ton of potential at the next level,” Pavlovich said. “His work ethic will allow him to reach that potential. Emporia is looking at him as an athlete. His size (6-3 and 210 pounds) and athleticism is what makes him so attractive to college coaches. It’s rare that you have a kid that weighs over 210 pounds running pro agility times and 40 times that he does. I can see him playing fullback, inside linebacker or even defensive end.”
In addition to his good size, he also has speed as he qualified for state in the hurdles last season. His playing weight may determine where the Hornets slot him.
"I'm most comfortable with linebacker," Goering said. "They got four linebackers from all over Kansas and one from Oklahoma. They're talking to me about playing defensive end and H-back. It's kind of a tight end, but off the line. That sounds kind of fun."
“Klayton has the frame to put on another 50 pounds easily with maturity and a collegiate training program,” Pavlovich said. “I am really excited for Klayton and his family for this opportunity that Emporia has extended to continue to play football.”
Goering earned league honors both ways — first team at running back and honorable mention at linebacker. Ironically, he didn’t play much running back until late in the season and still finished with 341 yards on 65 carries (5.2 average) and closed his career with a bang with 152 yards on 24 carries in the season-ending 31-24 victory over Hays that gave MHS a winning record at 5-4.
"I've got to say, that was a blast," Goering said of carrying the ball. "Running the ball, just having the ball in my hands, that was awesome."
Emporia State's entire presentation, from athletics to academics, is what sold Goering.
"The atmosphere and the coaches, I loved the coaches how they welcomed me and all the other recruits that day," he said as some of the reasons ESU appealed to him. "The school, the dorm rooms were so nice and so much bigger. I talked to Marcus and he loves it there. He can't say enough about it. I'm looking forward to playing with him again."
The ESU coaches also had teachers meet with the recruits, something that other schools didn't, which appealed to Goering. He was especially impressed with a biology professor who made him feel at home.
Goering said he'll work this summer on getting bigger, faster and stronger as he knows competition will be fierce. The Hornets are coming off an incredible 11-3 season that ended with a third-round playoff loss to eventual NCAA Division II national champion Northwest Missouri State.
According to the Emporia State website, Goering is among 17 freshmen who have signed so far, along with six transfers. Seven of the high school signees are from Kansas.