Future Vol 'a great all-around kid'

Justin King

InsideTennessee's staff hit the road last football season to get to know some Tennessee targets face-to-face. Log in or subscribe now to read more on this future Volunteer.

After the flattery of picking up a scholarship offer from Tennessee wore off, Justin King realized last July that he had a decision to make.

The Dundwoody (Ga.) High School prospect camped in Knoxville shortly thereafter and got the chance to sit down with head coach Derek Dooley.

The opportunity to commit to a school that's allowed underclassmen to earn starting roles was too much for King, and the rangy athlete pledged to be a Volunteer on July 18.

Tennessee parted ways with a pair of earlier commitments, which made King the longest-standing Class of 2012 verbal to ink with UT on National Signing Day. Throughout the process, he spoke highly of what he and fellow incoming freshmen plan to do on The Hill along with the younger Vols that had to be thrown in the Southeastern Conference fire early in their careers.

That sticktoitiveness put King's character on display even though the Tennessee suffered one of its worst defeats this century by falling 10-7 to Kentucky in December, hanging a 5-7 record in the books and missing out on a bowl game.

It's those kind of traits that were passed down to him from his parents Jerry Sr. and Catherine King, who raised another son, Jerry Jr., who also earned his way to a college football scholarship.

Dunwoody coach Jim Showfety thinks Justin King has the athleticism to be a contributor at Tennessee.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)

"He's a great kid," Dunwoody coach Jim Showfey said of Justin King. "His parents have done a tremendous job with him. I don't know of anybody that's ever really had anything bad to say about him. A great all-around kid and the Tennessee fans are going to love him."

How the Vols will use the 6-foot-3 ½ , 220-pounder once he gets on campus remains to be seen. He was recruited for much of the process as an outside linebacker. Regardless, his leadership skills in the huddle are something that helped the Wildcats throughout the 2011 season.

"I think there's no doubt that our kids respond to him extremely well," Showfety said. "He didn't start the season at quarterback, but in hindsight, it could have been a decision I probably shouldn't have made. We really felt like early in the year we had to have him at linebacker.

"When Justin is in there, the kids just seem to kind of respond. He's just got a great deal of charisma, and he's definitely one of our team leaders."

SEC-caliber athletes sometimes have to play a position other than the one at which they project to hold down on the next level. King is no exception as he had several games his senior season where he didn't take a snap on the defensive side of the ball.

"What we did early in the year, we had several meetings during the preseason," Showfety said. "As a staff we decided that we were very, very thin at outside linebacker — where he's probably going to play at Tennessee. We were thin at linebacker but very, very deep at quarterback. We felt like we could afford to let him focus on defense and on offense play running back, play a little quarterback, a little bit of receiver if we needed him. But, the first couple of games we were moving the ball but just couldn't put it in the end zone. We had some breakdowns, some penalties, turnovers."

After Showfety inserted King as the full-time signal-caller, the Wildcats won three games in a row and scored a total of 112 points during that stretch.

Dunwoody went 5-2 with King starting at quarterback but an overall record of 6-4 wasn't enough to get them into the postseason.

Although Region 6-AAAA didn't fare too well as a whole in the GHSA state playoffs with Marist, Mays and Southwest DeKalb all falling in the first round, it did have eventual state champion Tucker.

King is set to enroll at Tennessee this summer. Will he stay at linebacker? Will he roll to another spot? Time will tell what Dooley, defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney decide. Regardless, his high school coach is confident King has the ability to make a difference.

"I think (King)'s got to realize that up until now he's succeeded quite a bit based on his athleticism," Showfety said. "Now he's going to have to kind of fine tune his skills and learn a little bit more about technique and schemes. But, there's no doubt that athletically he's got the body to play in the SEC."

InsideTennessee caught King in action last September and interviewed him on camera after his team's 34-3 victory over Lithonia. To get a second look at what the future Vol said, click play below:


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