Jamar King of Mendocino College (Ukiah, CA) is an intriguing prospect signed as part of the impressive class of 2016. Nick Saban is adept at finding and developing talent as the tentacles of his coaching circle are vast. He reached back into Big Ten country via the Golden State to locate a versatile, athletic defensive end. King was born and raised in Detroit rooting for Michigan State. A former high school basketball player with a single year of football experience and academic issues was not able to garner any serious attention coming out of Denby High School (Michigan).
Consequently, King worked for six years at a Motor City plant before being redirected by his mentor to the quaint community nestled in the Flynn Hills mountain range slightly more than 100 miles north on Highway 101 from San Francisco. Ukiah’s largest industry is grape growing as part of the wine industry. Life in one of the reputed best small towns in California agreed with King as he arrived on campus at 240 pounds and has grown to 290 pounds on a 6-4.5 frame.
Scheduled to graduate in May, he recorded 63 total tackles in nine games as a sophomore at Mendocino College, including nine sacks and an impressive 23.5 tackles for a loss. The best defensive linemen from the Pacific 7 Conference are usually on the rosters of FBS schools. Deep into the recruiting cycle, the past two National Champions, Ohio State and Alabama, expressed interest and offered a scholarship to the All-Region, All-Conference, Defensive Player of the Year for the Region, Conference and Team. “I’m probably a little upset he wasn’t All-State,” said Mendocino College Head Coach Frank Espy. “I know my guy can play. He has a good natural first step. Initially, he was raw and we had to get him in shape. It is hot out here around 100 degrees and we spent a lot of time getting him away from the shade. His best football is ahead of him. We gave him a good foundation.” King has three years to play two for the Tide.
The Eagles had the number four defense in the state and tops in the conference. “I was breaking down film the other day and there are missed assignments,” replied Defensive Coordinator Roy Thompson. “On some of those plays, King makes the tackle on the other side of the field to stop a touchdown. He was the eraser.”
Selecting between the Buckeyes and Tide was a remarkable turn of events considering King had just completed his third season of organized football. One week after Bama captured the fourth title in seven years, Saban was on campus. “I enjoyed the conversation we had. It was a friend-to-friend conversation,” said King of the meeting. “There wasn’t any pressure. We just had a good conversation.” Visiting on the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was impressive according to the football player named King. “That really meant a lot to me to show up on that special day.”
Saban, dressed in suit and tie, ventured to the basketball gymnasium for a few shots prior to the actual encounter with King. The famous lunchtime pickup games with the Tide head coach and staff in Tuscaloosa was discussed. King currently competes as a member of the Mendocino College basketball team. Saban was astonished to see video of the "basketball guy" turned defensive end dunking the ball.
Although the Spartans were near and dear to his heart, King’s childhood dream was donning the crimson and white. Alabama is home to a legion of family members. Cousin and current crowned WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder hoped to play for the Crimson Tide in football or basketball but circumstances led him to become a professional boxer. King has given his famous cousin a chance to live through him vicariously on a different stage at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Espy is fond of saying, “Time is the only thing we never get back. It is more important than anything in the world. You have to take advantage of it.” His hungry 26-year old pupil and aspiring football player is well aware of the message. He has more than a puncher’s chance to succeed given his athletic ability and desire. One member of the family rose to the top as a pugilist. Jamar is attempting to be the “King” of his sport, football. The dream continues in Tuscaloosa.
Listen and view Jamar King, Frank Espy and Roy Thompson as BamaMag.com met with the trio on the campus of Mendocino College in Ukiah, California.