Offers Piling Up For PA Speedster

<b>Justin King</b>, a lightning fast athlete who is currently a junior at Gateway Senior High School in Monroeville, PA, has already received several scholarship offers. Do the Nittany Lions have a chance to land argueably the state's best junior prospect?

Name: Justin King
Position: RB, CB
Height: 6'0.5"
Weight: 180 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.24 at Ohio State Camp
4.29 at Nike Camp
20-yard shuttle: 3.72 at Nike Camp
Vertical Jump: 37.2" at Nike Camp
Bench Press: 11 reps of 185 pounds at Nike Camp
School: Gateway SHS, Monroeville, PA

Justin put up a host of impressive numbers at April's Nike Camp at Penn State. His vertical leap of 37.2 inches was tops at the camp. He also owned the camp's best shuttle time, 3.72 seconds, which was 2 tenths of a second faster than the 2nd place finisher. His 40-time, 4.29 seconds, was 3rd best that day.

He bested that 40-time later in the summer at an Ohio State camp when he ran the dash in 4.24 seconds.

"The strength and conditioning coach timed me while Coach Tressel watched," Justin recalled.

King, who has grown a good amount since the Nike Camp, is now slightly over 6-feet tall and weighs 180 pounds. He has been tremendous this season in helping Gateway to a 6-1 record, including a victory over perennial powerhouse Woodland Hills. The only dissapointment of the season so far was an overtime loss to Penn Hills in the Gators' first contest.

In seven games, Justin has rushed the ball 136 times for 1,193 yards (8.77 yards per carry) and 19 touchdowns. He also has 1 receiving touchdown, and added a defensive touchdown last week when he ran back his first interception of the year 42 yards for the score and his 5th touchdown on the night.

Only midway through his junior season, King already has 8 written scholarship offers from "Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Boston College and West Virginia."

Justin also believes that "Virginia, Notre Dame and Michigan" may be close to offering as well.

King visited several of those schools this summer.

"I went to Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Maryland, West Virginia and Penn State. I think that was it. I went to a camp for like one day each."

As expected, Justin has received numerous invitations to attend games this fall and is taking advantage of the opportunity.

"I went to Michigan when they played Notre Dame, I went to Penn State when they played Wisconsin, and I went to the Pittsburgh/Notre Dame game. I'm going to Ohio State this Saturday."

Depending on the school, Justin is being recruited to play either running back or cornerback in college.

"Ohio State offered me to play offense. Wisconsin and Iowa offered me as a running back too, and Maryland. Pitt's starting to want me to play running back."

Penn State, Boston College and West Virginia envision him playing in the defensive backfield.

Justin does not seem to have a preference.

"Wherever I can get on the field first," he admitted.

King has been receiving hand-written letters from many college coaching staffs including the Nittany Lions. PSU Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley has been recruiting Justin for a while now.

"I met him when I was in like 8th grade."

Penn State was the first to offer King a scholarship.

"[They offered] going into my sophomore year. I did really well at their camp. I ran like a 4.34 going into 10th grade and I shined at their camp.

"They weren't allowed to give me anything in writing, but they gave me a verbal.

"Penn State said there is a good opportunity for me playing early as a DB because they only have a certain amount of DBs on scholarship and most of them are leaving, but they have to see what goes on after this year.

"I've been to Penn State a lot, probably about 15, 20 times. Not [just] for games, but sometimes I might just go up there. Maybe about 10 times."

Did King, who is the stepson of former Penn State wide-receiver and current Gateway head coach Terry Smith, grow up a Penn State fan?

"I always liked Penn State. Yeah, I guess you could say that."

Does that make the Nittany Lions his current favorites?

"Everything's really open, but probably the top two are Ohio State and Penn State."

Justin has been to Ohio State for camp the past two years and will return this weekend for the Buckeye's game against Iowa.

He is unsure as to when exactly he will be ready to make a verbal commitment.

"I really don't know yet. I'd like to commit early, but I'm starting to feel like I'm not sure. I don't think I'll be ready until like this time next season."

Here is what he likes about his two current favorites.

Penn State: "I love their facilities, the coaches are really cool and I'm just really comfortable there since I've been there so many times."

Ohio State: "Just the tradition of the school and Coach Tressel. They have nice facilities and just traditions like NFL players and National Championships and all that type of stuff."

Justin has been fortunate enough to have had conversations with both Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel and Penn State head coach Joe Paterno at camps this summer.

What did he and Coach Tressel talk about?

"Football. How I'm doing and stuff like that."

What was his conversation with Coach Paterno like?

"We just talked about staying on top of my grades and being humble, stuff like that."

Justin's stepfather is not steering him in any particular direction.

"He said wherever I fit in best. He doesn't have any favorites right now."

There is a lot of time between now and February of 2005 when King will be able to sign a Letter Of Intent. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions will have to fend off a host of schools from across the nation hoping to land the Pennsylvania athlete who will undoubtedly be considered one of the top prospects in the Class of 2005.

Justin after the Penn State Nike Camp in April

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