Oklahoma high school players play a big part in Emporia State's turnaround

When Garin Higgins took over Emporia State's football program in 2006, there was little success to promote. So, the Blackwell native turned to Oklahoma high schools for recruiting.
by Jacob Unruh Published: February 16, 2014
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photo - Carl Albert's Trenton Ball in Midwest City, Tuesday July 2, 2013. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman  Steve Gooch - The Oklahoman
Carl Albert's Trenton Ball in Midwest City, Tuesday July 2, 2013. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman Steve Gooch - The Oklahoman

When Garin Higgins took over Emporia State's football program in 2006, there was little success to promote.

So, the Blackwell native turned to Oklahoma high schools for recruiting.

Eight recruiting classes later and with a much more successful team on the field, Oklahoma is still a big recruiting stop for the Kansas Division II school. Ten players from Oklahoma signed with Emporia State almost two weeks ago.

“Now, first and foremost we do want to emphasize getting kids out of our own state,” Higgins said. “Oklahoma football players have been good to us. There's a lot of reasons why we've turned this football program around, but these guys have been successful for us.”

The Hornets were 9-2 last season, losing in the opening round of the Division II playoffs against Minnesota Duluth. In 2012, they went 10-2 and won the Kanza Bowl after finishing 5-6 the previous year.

That's the kind of success that has star players in Oklahoma choosing to head north instead of remaining close to home.

“I like it because we're gonna win up there,” Carl Albert tight end Trenton Ball said about signing with the Hornets. “I know we're gonna be really good. The next couple years, we're gonna be amazing. Hopefully we'll get a national championship up there.”

Star players alongside Ball like Guthrie's Kai Callins and Kingfisher's Landon Nault are joining a roster that already had 14 Oklahoma players on it last season.

“It tells you how much about that staff for them to come down here when those kids could go to Tahlequah and Edmond — which is a huge draw — and play football when they're going to Emporia and they want to win,” said El Reno coach Taylor Schwerdtfeger, who played for Higgins and coached alongside him.


by Jacob Unruh
Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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Emporia State's Oklahoma connections

Emporia State's emphasis on recruiting Oklahoma talent reached a new level with the 2014 class.

The Hornets signed 10 players from the state, including some top-level talent. Here is a look at the class and the current makeup of the roster.

2014 SIGNING CLASS

Player; Pos.; Ht.; Wt.; School

Trenton Ball; TE; 6-6; 230; Carl Albert

Justin Brown; WR; 6-2; 195; El Reno

Kai Callins; RB; 5-10; 190; Guthrie

Drew Cook; S; 6-1; 185; Casady

Diesen Gorham; OL; 6-3; 295; Perkins-Tryon

Stephen Hocker; OL; 6-5; 250; Enid

Justin Marchà; K; 6-1; 180; Edmond Memorial

Landon Nault; RB; 5-9-185; Kingfisher

Joe Neece; WR; 6-1; 170; Cashion

Orlando Sheets; DB; 5-11; 190; Del City

OKIES ON THE 2013 ROSTER

Jaelon Bledsoe; H; 6-3; 210; Tulsa McLain

Jonathon Burton; RB; 5-11; 200; Enid

Mitchell Foote; WR; 6-3; 185; Enid

Corben Jones; QB; 6-1; 205; Yukon**

Jordan McAdoo; OL; 6-4; 299; Piedmont

Chris Poston; DB; 6-1; 195; McGuinness*

Ty Reasnor; QB; 6-2; 180; Cashion

Trey Rodgers; OL; 6-4; 282; Collinsville*

DeWayne Sanford; WR; 6-3; 200; Lawton MacArthur

Drake Smithton; WR; 5-9; 190; Woodward

Jake Warehime; DL; 6-0; 305; Del City

A.J. West; RB; 5-10; 185; Yukon

Brent Wilson; QB; 6-0; 183; Ponca City

Justin Wilson; DL; 6-0; 322; Luther

*Senior

**Transferring to Southwestern Oklahoma State

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