FAIRFIELD — Greg Forkes got to see a bit of the midwest a few weeks ago.
He liked North Newton, Kans., best.
The former Armijo High football standout, who missed his senior season after suffering a knee injury last August, signed a letter of intent to play for Bethel College in a brief signing ceremony before friends, family and teammates in the Armijo library, Friday.
Forkes, a middle linebacker/fullback/deep snapper with the Indians, also drew interest from Luther College of Decorah, Iowa; Loras College of Dubuque, Iowa; Dakota Wesleyan of Mitchell, S.D.; and Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill.
“I went to visit all of them in one big fell swoop a couple of weeks ago,” Forkes said, who chose to go to school in North Newton, which is about 25 due north of Wichita.
“I felt real comfortable there,” Forkes said. “The coach was accommodating, very nice. They have good food, which is important since I’ll be living there the next four years.”
Bethel has an enrollment of about 500 students, according to the school’s website, making it about a fourth the size of Armijo.
“I like a small school, I like small class sizes. . . . Academically, they took into account my (International Baccalaureate studies). They had my major (athletic training and physical therapy), which is a tough major, but I like competition. I felt academically and athletically it was a good fit overall.”
The Threshers were 2-9 overall and 1-8 in Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference under first-year coach Marty Mathis last season.
Forkes said he’s being recruited to play either inside or outside linebacker after playing both ways “my whole life.”
“It’s going to be nice, I can focus on one position,” Forkes said. “It will allow me to refine and improve my technique at one position.”
Former Armijo coach Aaron Toliver remember Forkes as one who could play anywhere – and wasn’t afraid to let you know.
“Greg, I remember him coming in from eighth grade, ‘I’ll play all 22 positions at once, send everybody else home. I’m that guy,’” Toliver said. “The thing with Greg, he was that guy.”
Being recruited to play any position is noteworthy after Forkes tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the first day of practice last August.
Despite being unable to play, Forkes studied film and attended practices and games before his surgery on Oct. 14, helping to train the three players on offense, defense and special teams it took to replace him.
He called being recruited and signing the letter of intent “relieving,” adding that “it feels good to know, with everything that happened, I’d still get an opportunity.”
His dad, Ken Forkes, an assistant coach with the Indians, had similar emotions.
“From the knee injury to now, I didn’t think this would happen,” the elder Forkes said. “It’s four months since the surgery (Friday).”
When it was suggested that Forkes’ parents say something at the signing ceremony, Ken Forkes, filming in the back said, “I’m proud of you.”
Perhaps thinking of her son being two time zones and a plane ride away, Monica Forkes said, “I’m still coming to terms.”
Forkes came to terms with his injured knee months ago and is working it back into shape. He’s able to jog and expects to be allowed to cut and move on it within the next month.
He’s been told me may be red-shirted if the knee is ready by the start of practice this summer, but is planning on playing.
“It’s getting there,” Forkes said. “I’m comfortable with the fact I’ll be ready by next football season.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.