King Finds Friendly Face in Secondary

A childhood pal is joining him to form Penn State's starting cornerback duo for Saturday's season-opener against Florida International in Beaver Stadium. King thinks the secondary as a whole is ready for the Golden Panthers.

Justin King didn't need another reason to be excited about the start of his junior season at Penn State. But he has one anyway now that his lifelong friend Lydell Sargeant is set to start opposite him at cornerback.

Sargeant, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior, will take over for Tony Davis when the Lions open the 2007 season Saturday against Florida International. Davis has been moved to free safety.

“Lydell had a great preseason. He's a great football player, and he plays tough,” King said earlier this week. “I'm excited to play next to him. We've been friends since we were in third grade. It's a great thing that's happening.”

King and Sargeant grew up in Monroeville, Pa., outside of Pittsburgh. Sargeant moved to California after his freshman year at Gateway High, but the two friends stayed in touch and eventually were reunited as members of Penn State's 2005 freshman class.

Once on campus, their paths diverged again, if only figuratively. King quickly emerged as a star-in-the-making, shining on offense and defense. He now is regarded as a likely high draft pick even if he leaves school a year early.

Sargeant, by contrast, has had to scramble for playing time. He played offense as a freshman, then was switched to defense before his sophomore season. He played in every game last year, finishing with five tackles and an interception.

But even though he didn't make an immediate impact, Sargeant didn't get down on himself.

“Lydell is a very high-spirited person,” King said. “He's a hard worker who lets the chips fall where they may. He's not the type to feel sorry for himself or dwell on things that aren't going right. It's hard to keep a person like him in the gutter. … He's a high-spirited person who's going to put his best foot forward.”

The Lions are expected to line up for Saturday's opener with Sargeant and King at cornerback, Davis at free safety and junior Anthony Scirrotto at hero.

King expressed some reservations about facing an opponent like Florida International, which will be playing its first game under new coach Mario Cristobal and will likely unveil a lot of unfamiliar schemes. But he believes the Lions have the personnel they need to match up with their upcoming opponents.

“We're very confident in the secondary,” King said. “We play good, tough defense. We have good chemistry back there. We've all been playing together, me, Scirrotto and Tony. Sargeant's a new addition, but he knows his stuff. We're all just ready and really excited about playing.”


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