As Willie Gooden prepares for his first season as head football coach at Kilgore College after a long stint as an assistant, his wish list hasn’t changed.
The Rangers win by being physical up front on both sides of the ball, playing solid special teams and running the football.
That said, when KC hosts a tryout combine today at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, Gooden — a former standout player at Kilgore and longtime assistant before being named the school’s 16th head coach back in January — will have his eyes on playmakers to help in those areas.
“It would be nice for a couple of diamonds to show up on the offensive and defensive lines,” Gooden said. “We’re also looking for a kicker, punter and deep snapper, so if someone shows up with those skill sets, we’d have interest in those guys. And, if we could find another true home run hitter at running back, that would be a nice addition.”
And, don’t forget about the one thing that never goes out of style.
“Speed.” the coach said. “You can never have too much speed. If someone comes over and runs well, that puts them in a different category.”
Registration for the combine is from 10-10:30 a.m. and the cost is $20. Players should wear workout clothes, workout shoes and cleats and have a copy of a physical exam from their high school. Highlight videos or game tapes would also help.
Players will be tested in the 10-yard dash, 40-yard dash, L Drill, Pro Agility, vertical jump, standing long jump and position-specific drills.
Gooden said KC has had success in the past finding players at these combines, and points to former Ranger standout Charles Woods of Humble as a prime example.
Woods was signed after a solid combine performance. As a sophomore linebacker at KC, recorded 111 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and three quarterback pressures. He earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference before moving on to Texas A&M-Commerce.
Gooden said KC now also has a 60-spot redshirt program to fill with players.
“We had 45 in the past, and now we have 60 spots we can bring kids through, work them out, get them acclimated with the way we do things at KC,” Gooden said. “If they make it through with the GPA requirements, do the work in class and stay in shape, they have a green light to walk on in the spring.”
The Rangers finished 10-2 in 2018, averaging 38.2 points and 384.5 yards per game (206 rushing, 178.5 passing). KC started the season 2-2 and went 0-2 to begin SWJCFC play before rolling to eight straight victories to end the year.
Kilgore averaged 42.1 points per game during that eight-game winning streak, capturing the top spot in the SWJCFC playoffs, winning the overall championship and ending the season with a 28-0 shutout of Pima (Arizona) in the annual Heart of Texas Bowl.
The Rangers will open the 2019 season at home on Aug. 24 against TJC.