King of the legs

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Even the elite legs in the country come to understand how unnerving the recruiting process can be.

Shockingly, some Div. I football programs still choose to not offer scholarships to kickers or punters. Most that do only issue offers every 3-4 years. Thus, finding a fax machine that will accept a signed National Letter of Intent isn't easy.

If it were, then Jonathan King would likely be a Tennessee Vol after his playing days at Farragut (Tenn.) High School are complete.

"I grew up a fan of Tennessee, but now that I'm in the recruiting process, I'm pretty open-minded," King told InsideTennessee. "I just want to find the best fit for me, where God wants me to be."

The Class of 2013 prospect has kicked true 21 of 33 field goals and 55 of 56 extra points the last two seasons combined. His career long is 53 yards, including 4 of 5 from 50-plus last year. As a junior, 36 of his 45 kickoffs sailed for touchbacks with a 67.8 yard average.

Now, his kickoff depth is "probably around 70-75. Occasionally, if I can hit one really well, I can get close to 80, but it's usually going to be in the 70-75 range."

The NCAA changed the kicking game immensely for the time being as it moved kickoffs up from the 30 to the 35-yard line, placed the line of scrimmage following touchbacks at the 25 instead of the 20, and coverage teams will only be allowed 5 yards' worth of a running start.

King provided his thoughts on how that may affect things on the next level.

"A lot of the guys are going to pretty easily put it into the end zone now. I'm not really sure the reason for them doing that," King said.

"A lot of coaches are probably not going to go deep with it and they're going to try some different, strategical things to place it inside the 5 or on the hash or numbers, different places. It's going to change it up scheme-wise, so it's going to be interesting."

With George Bullock (pictured) ready to start his career at Tennessee, Jonathan King might have to walk on if he wants to be a Volunteer.
(Danny Parker/
Ironically, he isn't able to devote as much time to his leg once his season gets underway as he spends his practices working out at quarterback for Farragut.

"It's two completely different things, and quarterback is more of football if you ask me. It's kind of good to get both ends of the game in there. It's two things that I love to do," said King, who fine tunes his kicking game after practices.

The state of Tennessee has produced its fair share of specialists over the years, including Zach Sharp from Maryville and Knoxville's George Bullock, who signed with the Volunteers in February.

"I've had the privilege to work with both guys," King said. "They're great guys, good leaders. They definitely have helped me getting to watch them and seeing how they react to different situations and adopt some of the things that they do."

Sharp flirted with the idea of becoming a Vol but chose to attend Tennessee Tech, where he sailed 9 of 15 field goals and 46 of 47 PATs through the uprights his freshman year in Cookeville.

When he's not kicking or throwing, King is doing what he does best — punting.

"I think my punting is probably a little better than my field goals and kicking wise," the FOX Sports NEXT three-star said. "It's kind of hard to do both. I feel comfortable doing both, but it's a different leg swing. Kicking is coming from the side cause it's soccer style, then punting is more straight behind, straight through it."

After averaging over 40 yards per punt his sophomore season for coach Eddie Courtney's Admirals, King netted 36.7 yards per punt in 2011. The last two years combined, 66 of his 75 punts were not returned. He said that his hang time on punts now is in the 4.5-second range, but said "if I'm feeling it, around 4.7 or 4.8."

The 6-foot-1, 160-pounder has used much of the offseason both traveling to campuses and clinics, impressing one kicking specialist and coach after another.

"The recruiting process is definitely crazy, but getting out there and seeing some of the talent at these national camps really gives me motivation to work hard and focus up for this season and prepare myself to do the best I can for my team this year," he said.

The Volunteers have shown interest in getting him as a specialist, but he may have to join the roster as a walk-on with Bullock, Matt Darr and Michael Palardy all slated to be on scholarship in 2013.

Though he is yet to pick up a scholarship offer, King is gaining plenty of interest. Tennessee is joined by the likes of Alabama, Kentucky, Oregon, South Carolina and UCLA as schools keeping an eye on him.

"I'd love to get a scholarship and help my family out," the Class AAA All-State punter said. "I feel like that'd be a great thing to be able to do, not having to pay for college. I just feel like wherever God wants me to be will open that door. If it is to walk on then that's what I'll do. It's just something to pray about and make sure it's the right fit."

King is currently carrying 3.1 grade point average with an ACT score of 24. He is learning toward being a Finance or Marketing major.

To get a glimpse of the No. 4 punter in the country on the gridiron, click play on the video below:

Danny Parker is currently the Associate Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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