During a team building activity last season, Gig Harbor High School’s football players were split up into small teams and tasked with performing a skit in front of their peers.
First-year coach George Fairhart told the players they were allowed to use props, if they wanted. When Fairhart saw then-junior cornerback Jurrian Hering’s prop, his jaw just about dropped to the floor.
It was a live, miniature horse. Hering brought it from his family’s farm.
“Nobody brings a live animal,” Fairhart said, laughing and reflecting on the memory.
“When he’s in, he’s all in,” Fairhart said.
As a state track hurdling champion, as a teammate, during team-building exercises, and on the football field: Hering is all in.
Hering, a senior, is one of the school’s top athletes. In track, he has offers from Army, Air Force and the University of Idaho. In football, he’s rated as a 3-star prospect by 247sports.com and holds scholarship offers from the Air Force and Brigham Young.
There were a few factors Hering attributes to his growth as a football player. He credits learning from then-senior corner Zack Davis, who helped him with the nuances of the game, and defensive backs coach Don Clegg.
“My junior year was really my breakout year,” he said. “I started to figure out how to play the game of football.”
He said playing 7-on-7 football with a team that traveled to different tournaments around the country helped a lot. And while the merits of 7-on-7 football are debatable, Hering had nothing but positive things to say about the experience and the exposure it afforded him.
“I got to play against some of the top athletes in the nation,” Hering said. “I was one-on-one against 5-star receivers with Alabama offers. I kind of realized that the guys I’m playing here aren’t like those guys. It helped me refine my technique, get me ready for the college level. It was crucial in developing my skills.”
Hering has worked relentlessly on his technique at corner.
“I’ve spent a lot of time working on my breaks out of a back pedal,” he said. “At corner, speed is everything — how fast you can change direction. I’ve spent countless hours working drills to transition from a backpedal to a sprint. Flipping the hips, trying to just get it faster.”
If there’s one thing Fairhart sees in Hering, it’s speed; undeniable speed.
“He’s so exceptionally fast,” Fairhart said. “Everybody has fast kids on their team. But Jurrian is faster than everyone else out there. When he’s playing offense, he can run by anybody. It’s a different deal when you have someone who can do that. ... He’s got the length, has a tall, long body. I don’t think he’s done growing yet either.”
An added bonus: Hering is coachable.
“He’s a very positive kid, not arrogant,” Fairhart said. “He’s very humble.”
Hering said as an underclassmen, he thought about the game too much while trying to play it. Now, he’s thinking less, and reacting more.
What isn’t clear yet is whether he’ll run track or play football in college.
“I want to go where the best opportunity is, whether that’s in track or in football,” Hering said. “I’m open to playing either one. I love playing football, going out and competing. Also love the aspect of track where I show that athleticism.”
Hering, who wants to pursue a career in law enforcement — he likes the idea of someday possibly working for the FBI — and he’s interested in the military academies, too.
His choice of school — and sport — is one he’ll have to make soon. In the mean time, Hering is focused on a big test against defending Class 3A South Sound Conference champion Timberline in week three, and trying to help the Tides win a league title this year.
“I love the challenge of watching a team’s best receiver on film, seeing the little cues he gives, going out on Friday night and playing what I’ve studied and locking him down,” Hering said. “The main goal that drives me every day is to be the best DB in the league.”