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Justin King, CB

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 192 | College: Penn State
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One of the top deep coverage cornerbacks in college football, King has also demonstrated outstanding skills performing on offense as a split end and on special teams as a gunner and returner. He has also shown the same accomplishments in the classroom, having graduated in December 2007 with a 3.0 grade point average, earning Dean's List and Academic All-Big Ten Conference accolades.

After playing on offense and defense as a true freshman, he went on to start every game at right cornerback the last two seasons. During that time, he deflected 21 passes and intercepted three others. After a stellar performance at the 2008 NFL Combine, King proved that athletically, he is more than ready to take on the daunting task of playing professional football at the young age of 20.

Playing for Penn State seemed to be a natural thing to do for King, whose step-father, Terry Smith, played as a wide receiver for head coach Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions for 1988-91. Smith would coach King during his playing days at Gateway High School. The youngster announced on the night of Nov. 15, 2004 that he would enroll at Penn State, arriving on campus in January 2005.

Shortly thereafter, King began contacting other premier players across the nation who were considering Penn State, asking them to join him to help PSU win Big Ten Conference and national championships. Within days of King's announcement, other top prep players began giving Paterno their commitments, including Derrick Williams, the nation's top-rated player. Before he finished "campaigning," King and fellow Gateway High tight end Jon Ditto were joined by 13 other prep prospects from Western Pennsylvania to wear a Nittany Lions uniform.

King was rated the nation's top cornerback and the top player in Pennsylvania at Gateway High School. He played in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, was the 2004 Gatorade Pennsylvania Player-of-the-Year and a first-team All-State selection by numerous media outlets. He shared the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Player-of-the-Year honor and was a member of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 and the Harrisburg Patriot-News Platinum 33 squads. He was co-winner of the Mercury Award, presented annually to the top player in Western Pennsylvania, and was a Parade All-American.

King led the team to an 11-2 mark in his senior season and the Western Pennsylvania District 7 Class AAAA title game. He rushed for 1,902 yards and 33 touchdowns on 208 attempts, and also had nine receptions for 180 yards and three scores. Defensively, he collected 25 tackles and an interception. As a junior, King rushed for 1,763 yards and 29 touchdowns. For his career, he carried the ball 544 times for 4,519 yards, the third-highest total in District 7 Class AAAA history, and scored 59 touchdowns. King also was an accomplished sprinter on the track-and-field team for two years.

A Freshman All-American selection by The Sporting News as a multiple-position true freshman in 2005, King started five of 12 games as a slot receiver/split end, in addition to seeing reserve duty at right cornerback. He delivered 11 tackles (9 solos) with two pass deflections. He gained 227 yards on 18 carries (12.6 avg), 126 yards with a pair of touchdowns on 10 receptions and 40 yards on three kickoff returns (13.3 avg).

With the graduation of Anwar Phillips, King concentrated on right cornerback duties in 2006. He totaled 30 tackles (22 solos) with six pass deflections and an interception. He earned Academic All-Big Ten Conference and second-team All-Big Ten accolades.

King's 2007 season was actually two-phased, as the first-team All-Big Ten Conference pick started the year showing excellent coverage skills, allowing 18 catches for 227 yards (12.6 avg) with no touchdowns through the first six games. He did not allow any receptions vs. Illinois and Wisconsin. The second half of the campaign saw him struggle considerably, as he was charged with 490 yards and six touchdowns on 32 grabs (15.3 avg). He finished the year with 49 tackles (36 solos), 15 pass deflections, two interceptions and a fumble recovery while starting all 13 games.


Positives: Has a tight waist and hips, with good leaping ability and a smooth running stride … Shows proper timing moves to make plays on the ball in flight, doing a good job of extending and riding up the receiver to reach around and deflect the pass … Fluid in his backpedal, showing quickness, control and proper pad level on his breaks … Smooth turning in transition and flashes suddenness when closing … Maintains position on the receiver in man coverage, whether playing, trailing, covering or allowing cushion on the pass … Has better ball reaction skills to the thrown ball than vs. the run, showing the timing and a break on the play, with excellent hand/eye coordination to disrupt receivers in their routes … When he sees the play develop, he shows good urgency getting to the thrown ball (too reluctant to attack vs. the run, though) … Lacks the strength to be effective in press coverage, but has the speed to stay with the receiver throughout the deep patterns (needs to not allow so much cushion, though, as he is better playing off the hip of his man rather than challenging them with room) … There is almost no wasted motion in his backpedal, thanks mostly to his loose hips … Has the burst to close on plays in a hurry and gets his hands on a lot of throws due to good timing … Snatches the ball naturally as a receiver and could see playing time on offense (tends to trap the ball when going for the interception, though) … Shows good acceleration staying with receivers on deep routes … Has good hip swerve in his change of direction during man coverage and eats up a lot of ground tracking the ball in flight … Displays a better feel and awareness to instinctively react to throws in his zone than when asked to play near the line of scrimmage (gets lost in trash) … Has good suddenness in his plant-and-drive to transition quickly … Shows very good elevation when going for the high point on the thrown ball … Has the sudden closing burst to prevent long gains on throws underneath … His hip agility is evident in how quickly he can change direction without having to throttle down … Might get out-jumped by bigger receivers, but will do whatever he can to ride up on the opponent to deflect the pass … . Must develop wrap-up tackling skills, but is a decent hitter working in space … On offense, he hit the seam quickly as a receiver and has the lateral quickness to make the initial tackler miss.

Negatives: Has just adequate upper body muscle definition and while he could use more bulk on his frame, the additional weight could affect his timed speed … Has marginal strength and seems to shy away from contact when asked to provide run support … More of an ankle biter as a tackler, as he does not get in good position to wrap and secure … Takes too much chances with his cushion (too confident in his closing speed) and the bigger receivers had great success in gobbling up that cushion, getting behind him and making plays in the end zone on him in 2007 … Must show better concentration on the field, as he tends to throttle down when not involved in the action and it is rare to see him search out hats working near the line of scrimmage … Must develop thicker skin, as he lets one bad play affect him throughout the game … Not a natural hands catcher and could have some vision issues, as he struggles to get in position and turn around to look the ball in on deep routes … Lacks pop on contact and is more of a drag-down type of tackling, hoping to hold on until help arrives (will let others make plays near the X's, as he refuses to get near offensive linemen) … Gets caught out of position often, especially when he eyeballs the quarterback for as long as he does … Susceptible to play-action, pump fakes and double moves (not the most instinctive guy on the field) … Makes plays on the ball rather than staying with his pass coverage assignment and while he has good timed speed, the explosive recovery burst is very inconsistent … Marginal playing in press coverage, as he will get his hands placed properly to mirror, but does not generate the punch to reroute … On the rare chances of playing in run support, blockers easily engulf him, as he does not have the upper body strength to shed or slip under blocks … Has good leaping ability, but will lose more than a fair share of jump ball battles vs. bigger receivers … Good at reaching around to deflect the pass, but a lot of those deflections could have been interceptions if he did not try to trap or body catch the ball … Questions arise about his courage, as he does not like contact, especially vs. the running game.

Compares To: ANWAR PHILLIPS-New Orleans … Like the player he replaced in the Penn State lineup, King lacks aggression in his game and does everything he can to shy away from contact or lend support to the running game. He has great timed speed, but gets overconfident with it and allows too much of a cushion. Just look at what big receivers like Ohio State's Brian Robiskie, Indiana's James Hardy and Michigan State's Devin Thomas did to him in 2007. Like Phillips and Alan Zemaitis, King has gotten great publicity at PSU, but he has to show better courage, instincts and production on the field. Honestly, with his speed and past experience, it might be wise just to convert him to receiver.

Career Notes

King is the last Nittany Lion to play on both sides of the ball in a game (2005) … Started 31 of 38 games at Penn State, including 26 at right cornerback … Recorded 90 tackles (67 solos) with a fumble recovery, 23 pass deflections and three interceptions for 6 yards in returns … Rushed 18 times for 227 yards (12.6 avg), caught 10 passes for 126 yards (12.6 avg), including two touchdowns and returned three kickoffs for 40 yards (13.3 avg).

2007 Season

All-Big Ten Conference first-team selection … Started all thirteen games at right corner-back, ranking 12th in the nation and second in the league with 17 passes defended (two interceptions for 6 yards in returns, 15 break-ups) … Recorded 49 tackles (36 solos) as the team ranked 11th nationally in total defense (308.23 ypg), seventh in scoring defense (17.54 ppg) and 39th in pass defense (214.46 ypg) … Had a fine first half of the season, as he did not allow any receptions in either the Illinois and Wisconsin clashes, giving up 227 yards on 18 grabs (12.6 avg) through the first six games … However, in his final seven contests, he saw his main pass coverage assignments haul in 32 passes for 490 yards (15.3 avg) and six touchdowns (for the season, the opposition caught 50 balls for 717 yards, 14.34 avg, and six scores).

2007 Game Analysis

Florida International … Made just one tackle in the season opener, but deflected two passes and recovered a fumble by FIU's Lionell Singleton on a 31-yard kickoff return five minutes into the game … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#5-Jeremy Sickens (5:10-187)-One catch for 6 yards.

Notre Dame … King added another solo tackle and two pass break-ups, including one on Jimmy Clausen's third-&-4 toss late in the second quarter that forced an Irish punt … He also deflected a Clausen third-&-goal pass in the third quarter, as Notre Dame then settled for a 22-yard field goal … Picked off Clausen's fourth-&-goal toss in the end zone for a touchback with 6:19 left in the game … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#19-George West (5:08-172)-Two catches for 9 yards.

Buffalo … Posted three solo tackles … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#18-Naam Roosevelt (5:11-184)-Seven catches for 134 yards and a long of 37.

Michigan … Added another three solo tackles and knocked a Ryan Mallett pass out of the hands of Mario Manningham at the UM 30 late in the first quarter … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#86-Mario Manningham (6:00-186)-Six catches for 61 yards and a long of 20.

Illinois … Produced three tackles for the third-straight game, as he broke up a Juice Williams third-&-3 pass on the game's opening series and then picked off another Williams toss for a 6-yard interception return … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#21-Kyle Hudson (5:11-166)-No catches.

Iowa … Delivered five solo tackles … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#89-James Cleveland (6:01-186)-Two catches for 37 yards and a long of 21.

Wisconsin … Had just one solo stop … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#13-Marcus Randle El (5:10-193)-No catches.

Indiana … Facing 6:07 James Hardy, the Hoosiers receiver torched King on touchdown grabs of 8 yards in the first quarter and 7 yards in the fourth, as the defensive back finished with nine tackles (8 solos) and three pass deflections, including one where he batted a third-&-11 pass away from Hardy early in the second frame … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#82-James Hardy (6:07-220)-Fourteen catches for 142 yards, two touchdowns and a long of 26.

Ohio State … Continued to struggle, seeing Brian Robiskie get by for a 9-yard touchdown in the first quarter, as he totaled four tackles (3 solos) with a pass break-up … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#80-Brian Robiskie (6:03-197)-Four catches for 59 yards, one touchdown and a long of 27.

Purdue … Deflected five passes and produced four tackles (3 solos) … The Boilermakers settled for a first quarter 45-yard field goal after King knocked down Curtis Painter's third-&-3 toss at the PSU 28 … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#9-Dorien Bryant (5:10-177)-Five catches for 56 yards and a long of 14.

Temple … Had just a pair of tackles … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#82-Bruce Francis (5:09-181)-Six catches for 75 yards and a long of 22.

Michigan State … It was a long afternoon for King in a 35-31 loss, as he did come up with eight tackles, but Devin Thomas torched King and PSU with touchdown receptions of 12 yards in the first quarter, 33 yards in the third and 26 yards in the final frame … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#10-Devin Thomas (6:02-214)-Seven receptions for 139 yards, three touchdowns and a long of 33.

Texas A&M (Alamo Bowl) … Closed out his career with five tackles (3 solos) … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#2-Earvin Taylor (6:03-2280-Two catches for 19 yards and a long of 15.

2006 Season

Second-team All-Big Ten Conference selection, adding Academic All-Big Ten and PSU Dean's List honors … Took over right cornerback duties, starting all thirteen games … Made 30 tackles (22 solos), as he deflected six passes and intercepted another … Helped PSU's defense rank in the top 15 nationally in rushing (87.5 ypg, seventh), scoring (14.4 ppg, ninth), total defense (284.5 ypg, 15th) and pass efficiency defense (105.9 rating, 14th).

2006 Game Analysis

Akron, Minnesota and Illinois … Delivered three tackles in each game.

Northwestern … Held the Wildcats' leading receiver, Shaun Herbert, to just three catches for 34 yards and made three stops.

Notre Dame … Two of his four tackles came on third-down plays.

Ohio State … Picked off a pass and posted three hits … Spent much of his day blanketing explosive receiver Ted Ginn Jr … King made a diving interception, the first of his career, of the initial pass directed to Ginn. The pick was the first of the season in 152 pass attempts overall for eventual Heisman Trophy-winner Troy Smith … King shadowed Ginn all over the field and held him to just two catches for 15 yards, and the Lions' defense gave up only 14 points and 115 passing yards to the Buckeyes.

Michigan … Added a pair of tackles while breaking up two passes.

Purdue … In the 12-0 win, King made two solo tackles and broke up one pass, helping to limit the nation's fourth-ranked passing offense to just 184 yards (125 below average), as the Boilermakers were blanked for the first time under head coach Joe Tiller.

Michigan State … King finished the regular-season strong, breaking up two passes in the Senior Day win.

Tennessee (Outback Bowl) … King delivered another stellar effort in the 20-10 win, as he limited All-American receiver Robert Meachem to just four catches for 33 yards while making an assisted tackle.

2005 Season

Joined the team in January, participating in spring drills … Earned Freshman All-American first-team honors as an all-purpose back by The Sporting News … Played on both sides of the ball during the initial seven games, but when split end Derrick Williams suffered a season-ending injury at Michigan, King focused on offense the remainder of the year … Started as the team's slot receiver vs. Cincinnati, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State … Also played behind Anwar Phillips at right cornerback … Caught ten passes for 126 yards (12.6 avg) and two touchdowns … Gained 227 yards on 18 carries (12.6 avg) and 40 yards on three kickoff returns (13.3 avg) … Recorded eleven tackles (9 solos) and deflected two passes.

2005 Game Analysis

South Florida … Made his collegiate debut with a 61-yard rushing attempt, gaining 66 yards on two runs and also had a solo tackle.

Cincinnati … Scored his first career touchdown on a 59-yard reception, but was tackled for a 13-yard loss on a reverse, turning the ball over on a fumble.

Northwestern … Gained 43 yards on a rushing attempt, adding a 37-yard touchdown catch.

Ohio State … Made two solo tackles with a pass deflection and a 12-yard kickoff return, but lost 6 yards on a reception.

Michigan … Ran for a 5-yard gain and posted six tackles (5 solos).

Illinois … Had an 8-yard catch and two rushes for 37 yards.

Purdue … Carried four times for 56 yards and returned a kickoff 9 yards.

Florida State (Orange Bowl) … Helped the team to a 26-23 victory, as King caught five passes for 27 yards and returned a kickoff 19 yards.

Injury Report

2008: Could not complete agility tests at the NFL Combine due to cramps in his calves.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.38 in the 40-yard dash … 305-pound bench press … Bench pressed 225 pounds 14 times … 475-pound squat … 40-inch vertical jump … 3.72 20-yard shuttle … 31 5/8-inch arm length … 8 1/2-inch hands.

Combine: 4.31 in the 40-yard dash … 1.47 10-yard dash … 2.5 20-yard dash … 4.32 20-yard shuttle … 7.07 three-cone drill … 34-inch vertical jump … 10'7" broad jump … Bench pressed 225 pounds 14 times.

High School

Attended Gateway (Pittsburgh, Pa.) High School, playing football for his step-father, former Penn State wide receiver Terry Smith … Smith also serves as the school's athletic director … Rated the nation's top cornerback and the top player in Pennsylvania … Played in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, was the 2004 Gatorade Pennsylvania Player-of-the-Year and a first-team All-State selection by numerous media outlets … Shared the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Player-of-the-Year honor and was a member of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 and the Harrisburg Patriot-News Platinum 33 squads … Co-winner of the Mercury Award, presented annually to the top player in Western Pennsylvania, and was a Parade All-American … Led the team to an 11-2 mark in his senior season and the Western Pennsylvania District 7 Class AAAA title game … Rushed for 1,902 yards and 33 touchdowns on 208 attempts, and also had nine receptions for 180 yards and three scores. Defensively, he collected 25 tackles and an interception … As a junior, he rushed for 1,763 yards and 29 touchdowns … For his career, he carried the ball 544 times for 4,519 yards, the third-highest total in District 7 Class AAAA history, and scored 59 touchdowns … Also was an accomplished sprinter on the track-and-field team for two years.


Graduated in December 2007 with a degree from the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences … Son of Allison Smith … Stepfather, Terry Smith, was a standout wide receiver at Penn State from 1988-91 and is the head football coach and athletic director at Gateway High School … Born Justin Thomas King on 5/11/87 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


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