MIAMI — Gunner Hudson has found a home at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
The former Afton Eagle had received preferred walk-on status at Oklahoma State, but quickly realized he didn’t belong in Stillwater.
“I didn’t have too many offers, so I just went with Oklahoma State,” Hudson said. “When I got down there, I realized I really didn’t want to be there, paying so much money to get out of college and have so much money to pay after that.”
He and his father, Jimmy Hudson, talked again and decided it would be best if Gunner joined the Golden Norse program.
Originally listed as an inside receiver by Oklahoma State then linebacker in the spring at NEO, Gunner Hudson has thrived since being switched to running back by Golden Norse coaches.
That’s the position he played while helping the Eagles reach the Class A semifinals and earn co-offensive player of the year honors in District A-7.
He’s glad he made the move.
“I love it here, its really nice,” Gunner Hudson said. “I have a great bond with all my teammates. They make everything easier on me. They push me to be the best I am.”
The younger Hudson and quarterback Wil Amos (now at Emporia State in Kansas) gave the Eagles one of the most explosive offenses in Class A football in 2017.
Afton outscored the opposition 672-204 over 15 games.
Hudson had 1,867 yards and 34 touchdowns on 157 rushing attempts as a senior.
He also had nine receptions for 211 yards and two scores.
“Gunner really was one of the biggest surprises in the spring,” Golden Norse head coach Zach Allen said. “We originally had him at linebacker, mainly because we knew he was a faster, bigger guy that we felt could help a position that we had a lot of question marks in going into the spring because we had lost two really solid guys.”
When it looked like he wouldn’t break into the lineup at that position, Hudson asked about moving to running back.
“That was one of our more experienced positions and he brings something to the table that we don’t have,” Allen said. “If you need 4 yards, Gunner Hudson is going to find 4 yards. He’s going to be irreplaceable on some special teams, but he’s going to have all the snaps he wants.
“It allows us to get into some multiple two-back sets and it develops our goal line package even more. It allows us to hopefully get into some second- and third-and-short situations where it will loosen up the secondary and develop those talented wide receivers even more.”
The Golden Norse open the 2018 season on Aug. 30 with Arkansas Baptist.
They were picked as the preseason favorite by coaches in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference.
NEO also is eighth in the NJCAA preseason rankings.
What will it take to live up to the lofty billing?
“We just have to make sure our effort, attitude and tempo is ahead of everybody else,” Hudson said. “We’ve got to make sure that we are 1-0 each week coming in and not thinking ‘oh, we’re 5-0’ or this. We’ve got to be 1-0 starting each week. It’s a new season every day, every week.”