Like many University of Missouri fans, Griff Goodrich had closely followed the rumors about whether the Tigers would leave the Big 12 Conference and where they might end up.
But for Goodrich, the developing story hit closer to home. A senior pitcher at Kirkwood, had committed to continue his baseball career at Missouri before the move to the Southeastern Conference was announced.
"I just didn't know if we were staying put," Goodrich said Tuesday. "At first it was kind of nerve-wracking, I guess you could say, just because you didn't know where you were playing next year. But it turned out to be a great opportunity to head down to the SEC, and I'm just thankful for that."
Goodrich had asked baseball coaches every few weeks about a possible move to the SEC but said he wasn't able to gain any more information than was out there. So he received the news like everyone else.
"When I got the news Sunday morning, I woke up and right away it was pure excitement," he said. "It was awesome. The Big 12 is a great, prestigious conference, but to move down to the SEC for baseball, that's baseball country down there. You've got the top teams fighting for a trip to Omaha every year out of that conference. It's great competition."
Goodrich also is looking forward to the move as a sports fan.
"Being an athlete, it will be great to play against great competition," he said. "But also being a student, to go watch those games. To come see Kentucky or Florida come to Mizzou for basketball, those are the top teams in the nation. Come see Alabama (football) take a visit to Columbia. That would be awesome to see. You're seeing the top teams in the country. It will be a great experience to watch and be a part of as well."
Several athletes throughout the area have made verbal commitments to continue their athletic careers in Columbia next year. Some, like Goodrich, are able to make those decisions official with the signing of their letter of intents today.
High school seniors in all sports other than football, soccer, track and field, cross country, field hockey and water polo can sign binding letters of intent in the early period which runs today through next Wednesday.
Goodrich isn't alone in his excitement about the move to the SEC.
Marquette senior center Ryan Rosburg, who committed to play basketball at Mizzou after also considering Tennessee, is looking forward to being a part of a program that will make that transition.
"I looked at Tennessee for so long, so I know a lot about the SEC," Rosburg said. "I really like the tradition in it with schools like Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee -- all good tradition programs. They have a big fan base, too, so I think that it will be really cool. Also to be the first Missouri team to be in the SEC. I think that will be cool, too, to go to some of those places."
MICDS senior linebacker Michael Scherer was recruited by schools from coast to coast in conferences like the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 before making a verbal commitment to Missouri in June.
"I've talk to my whole family about this, and to be honest, for me, it is almost like the best of both worlds because I'm playing for my home state and I'm playing in what's arguably the best conference in college football," Scherer said. "It's kind of like you can't have it any better, almost."
Scherer is one of four area football players who have pledged to the Tigers, along with Parkway North linebacker Donavin Newsom, Ritenour defensive tackle Edmond Ray and Affton product Markus Golden, who is now at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.
They are part of a larger group of area high school seniors, including Goodrich and Rosburg, St. Joseph's basketball players Maddie and Morgan Stock and others, who will head to Columbia in 2012 and to help the Tigers tackle the new challenges of joining the Southeastern Conference.
"It will get us better, playing against the best," Goodrich said. "It will just be one great experience for every student-athlete at Mizzou to be a part of."
SLUH'S KLUG COMMITS TO HARVARD
St. Louis University High senior shortstop Mitch Klug committed to Harvard on Tuesday.
"I think when I went up there in September I really had a good time and enjoyed everything about it," he said. "I came back to St. Louis, and after a couple days I felt like that was the place at the time."
Klug, 17, also considered St. Louis University, George Washington and others. He made several official and unofficial visits to help narrow down his decision.
Klug batted .364 as a junior, with five doubles, five triples, 20 RBIs, 37 runs, 25 stolen bases and a .500 on-base percentage. He also went 6-0 with a 2.33 earned-run average in 33 innings.
As a sophomore, Klug hit .338 with two doubles, three triples, two home runs, 29 RBIs, 22 runs, 23 stolen bases and a .460 OBP.
McCLUER NORTH LINEMAN JONES HAS INTEREST
Keith Jones had been one of the top offensive and defensive linemen in the Suburban North Conference. College programs have taken notice.
Jones (6-2, 271) has a team-high 13 sacks for McCluer North, as well as 46 tackles one fumble recovery and one interception -- which he returned 72 yards for a touchdown in a 37-14 win against Lafayette on Saturday. He's also one of the driving forces for the running game with his work on the offensive line.
Jones said he has a scholarship offer from Grambling, but also interest from others. He said he will take a visit to Kansas this winter and has also received interest from Tennessee-Martin and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.