The 6-foot-3 ½, 215-pound outside linebacker out of Dunwoody, Ga., returned the excitement back to the Volunteer coaching staff on Monday by telling them of his commitment.
King tripped up to see the campus and facilities in Knoxville on Saturday and was taken on his tour by linebackers coach Peter Sirmon and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
After returning home, King talked the trip over with his parents Jerry Sr. and Catherine King, his brother Jerry King Jr. and the coaching staff at Dunwoody High School, including head coach Jim Showfety and defensive coordinator W.C. Davis.
The consensus for Justin King and all who know him was simple — commit to Tennessee.
The three-star prospect made the call on Monday.
"I called coach Sirmon after I got off the phone with my defensive coordinator here at my high school and my head coach," King said excitingly. "It was nothing but screaming because everybody was happy with my decision. I felt real confident this morning waking up and thinking UT football. That's one thing I really enjoyed when I was up there for the visit, just the atmosphere of UT football, the Vol Nation, the Vol Walk, just hearing all that excitement for UT and for their football team."
King got an idea for what things are like from being a Vol after bumping into sophomore wide receiver Justin Hunter, who is fresh off a season in which he earned All-Southeastern Conference Freshman team accolades.
"Hunter just talked to me about the whole program and the atmosphere that they go through, just the day-to-day routine and they said they love it. It doesn't get any better than UT," King said.
The recruiting process in college football has its downside. Some coaches lie consistently to recruits and tell them anything they want to hear just to get their signature. King was refreshed to get a dose of reality from the Tennessee coaching staff what it's going to take to get into the lineup.
|Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and the coaching staff were excited to get the commitment news from Justin King.|
"Coach Wilcox, when I got on the phone with him today, he said, 'Justin, it's going to be hard. It's not for everybody, but your experience here at UT are going to be some of the best years of your life. That's one thing I like about the whole coaching staff at UT — they're straight up. They're not going to say you're going to come in here right away and play as a true freshman. I want the truth. I want someone that's going to say, 'Justin, it's going to be hard.' I don't want it to be easy. I want somebody to push me. I want someone to make me a better player each and every day at practice.
"(Tennessee) coach (Derek) Dooley, I asked him if he believes in playing true freshman. He looked me dead in the eye and said, 'Justin, I played 17 freshmen last year. The best man will play, period.' I knew right then and there. That just showed me a lot. He doesn't go by, 'OK, this is a senior. I'm going to throw him out there before this freshman.' If you're competing each and every week and you're the better person, then you're going to be on the field."
As he and his Dunwoody teammates prepare for their high school season and the hunt for the GHSA Class AAAA state championship, King does so with those surrounding him completely content with his decision.
"Everybody's excited, everybody felt like UT is the best fit for me," he said. "The coaching staff, they felt like right when UT offered, me playing at UT would be phenomenal for me just being there. They felt real good about my decision. My head coach said, 'Justin, this is probably the best place for you.' I felt real, real good about it with me making the decision."
King is a "Yes sir, no sir" kind of young man. He speaks passionately about both his high school team and wanted to be able to do the same for his future home.
"Our pride for Dunwoody football is so high," he said. "I want to give my all for my teammates and that's something I want to do in college. So, I went up to Tennessee just to see if i can get that same vibe. Do I feel comfortable walking to the weight room? Walking onto the practice field? Do I feel the same way I do in high school where I know I'm giving my all for my team? That's something that felt right when I stepped foot on the practice field and the weight room. Just looking around, I told myself, 'You know what? I can come in here and really push myself and push my teammates and be a great leader.'"