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KFBCA Top 11: Hayden Pauls

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Hayden Pauls, OL, 6-5, 270, Emporia

  • KFBCA Top 11: Hayden Pauls, brought to you by Nex-Tech Wireless, Pizza Hut and Subway. (Photo by Everett Royer,
    KFBCA Top 11: Hayden Pauls, brought to you by Nex-Tech Wireless, Pizza Hut and Subway. (Photo by Everett Royer,

The Kansas Football Coaches Association picked their All-State teams December 8th and 9th, including their Top 11. Kansas Pregame is providing capsules for each of the Top 11 selections.

Check out Emporia senior Hayden Pauls' capsule below:

Hayden Pauls, OL, 6-5, 270, Emporia

Emporia offensive lineman Hayden Pauls had offers from Kansas State and Kansas, but chose an out-of-state option in Iowa State. 

Pauls is the fourth-ranked prospect in the state of Kansas according to Rivals and is a part of the third-ranked recruiting class in the Big 12 according to 247Sports. Pauls participated in the 2019 National Combine at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio last January where his recruitment picked up.

Pauls, who plans on enrolling at Iowa State in the spring semester, committed to the Cyclones back in April. This past season at Emporia, Pauls finished with an incredible 81 pancake blocks to push his total to 138 pancakes in his career. He helped lead the team to a 6-4 record, the most wins in a season since 2012.

Led by Pauls, Emporia rushed for over 230 yards a game. 

Emporia coach Corby Milleson on Pauls: “Hayden has obviously been a large part of the turnaround at Emporia High, helping us to our first winning season since 2012, and making the second round of the playoffs three out of the last four years. Hayden's attention to detail is what has helped to set him apart from other linemen. Obviously physically gifted, he committed himself to the weight room, and film study. He was consistently and constantly working on his craft, either with the team, or at camps in the summer. He had a drive and desire to be one of the best linemen in the state, and we feel he accomplished that goal. He also is a tremendous student, earning enough credits to graduate after the first trimester of the year, and will be an early enrollee at Iowa State. He is a physical blocker that had an incredible knack for finishing blocks. I am not sure that I will have another like him. We definitely look forward to following his career playing for the Cyclones.”

Check out some of Pauls' early season highlights from this fall:

Pauls was also part of our "Big Men on Campus" feature from this year's Football Preview magazine. Find his feature by Conor Nicholl below:

Emporia senior lineman Hayden Pauls has helped turn around the Spartans in his first three seasons and wants to continue the trend this fall. Next year, Pauls will play for Iowa State, another squad that is on the rise.

The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Pauls is rated as the sixth-best player in Kansas, according to the well-known recruiting service 247Sports – and headlines the most talented offensive line class in recent Sunflower State history.

Pauls, who is ranked third among in-state linemen, received interest from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Kansas State and Minnesota. He is another strong recruit from Emporia, a program with several elite individuals, though the team has not had a winning season since 2012.

He announced his commitment on April 13. ISU, with fourth-year coach Matt Campbell, has emerged a one of the biggest turnarounds in the last two falls. Iowa State didn’t produce a winning record from 2010-17 before back-to-back 8-5 marks.

The Cyclones have defeated three squads ranked in the top-6 in the previous two years, including against No. 3 Oklahoma two seasons ago. Campbell has earned back-to-back conference coach of the year honors and has started to recruit Kansas more aggressively.

“They used to not be a big player in the Big 12, and now they are making a run for Oklahoma, who is one of the better teams in the nation, and they are making a run for Texas, who is a really good team in the Big 12,” Pauls said.

Last year, Wichita Northwest running back Breece Hall and Labette County quarterback Easton Dean both signed with ISU. Hall was the state’s second-ranked player, and Dean stood seventh. Both Hall and Dean arrived on campus at ISU in January. Iowa State offered Lakin lineman Hadley Panzer this spring, though he eventually committed to Kansas State.

In December, Campbell, in a rare appearance for an out-of-state coach, spoke at the Kansas Football Coaches Association convention in Wichita. K-State’s Chris Klieman and KU’s Les Miles were also speakers. 

Pauls was impressed with Campbell’s coaching staff, many whom came with him from Toledo, and the family atmosphere.

“They are just on their way up, and I want to be a part of that,” Pauls said. Pauls, one of several high-profile Emporia High recruits in recent years, is part of a deep 2020 linemen class in Kansas. Last year, the Sunflower State was headlined by Blue Valley North quarterback Graham Mertz, now at Wisconsin and Wichita Northwest defensive end Marcus Hicks, now at Oklahoma.

The ’15 class is the last one most similar to this fall. That year, offensive linemen A.J. Harris and Christian Gaylord were Kansas’ top-two prospects, and Evan Applegate was sixth.

This season, Lawrence Free State OL Turner Corcoran is the state’s top recruit. Pauls, Gardner-Edgerton’s Talor Warner, Blue Valley’s Mason Richman and Derby’s Alex Conn – all linemen - are in the top-nine.

Fifteen of the state’s top-16 recruits have committed to a Power 5 school, also rare for Kansas. Pauls knows the majority of the top linemen. Pauls said the linemen share several traits, including “kind of the Midwest go-get-it done” mindset.

“We are all pretty good sized,” he said. “We are all hard working. We’ve all got level heads.”