Hunter Reed said Thursday he is following his heart to Emporia State University.

Reed, who played four years of football for Pawhuska High School, two of them as a team captain, signed a national letter of intent Thursday at PHS to play next season for the Emporia State Hornets. He explained that he fell in love with Emporia, Kansas, and the school during his recruiting visit.

“You follow your dreams. You follow your heart,” he said.

Reed was recently named a Class A football All Star and a member of the Oklahoma All State Team at linebacker. He was credited with 464 tackles for the Pawhuska Huskies.

Pawhuska Head Coach Matt Hennesy described the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association — the 14-member conference in which Emporia State plays — as a sort of Division II version of the DI Southeastern Conference. Hennesy said he recommended Reed to the Emporia State coaches not only for his football ability but for his character. Hennesy said he anticipates Reed will be a big-time contributor to the ESU program.

Hennesy, who is 17-7 with two playoff berths in two years at Pawhuska, described Reed as one of the players who made a key difference in the rebound of Pawhuska football.

Reed’s junior year, when it was routine for Pawhuska’s starters to play on both sides of the ball, he was a starter on the offensive line as well as at linebacker. Hennesy’s account of how that came about was that he was short of offensive linemen before the start of the 2018 season and he asked Reed, who had been anticipated to see action as a running back, if he wanted to play on the line or if he wanted the coach to ask a younger player to do it.

Reed’s response was that he wanted to win, and would be willing to make the switch to offensive lineman.

As a senior, Reed primarily played at linebacker but also saw action in the offensive backfield.

Family members, fellow Pawhuska football players, classmates, friends and teachers joined Reed for his signing. He thanked them all for their influence on him.

“I love you guys — you guys are awesome,” he said.