One of those plays was when 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Grant Wiley vaulted over the offensive line to stuff Hokie running back Lee Suggs in his tracks. Good stuff, no doubt.
The other one? Well, unless you live under a rock, you know the one I’m talking about. The one where a slightly built Mountaineer defensive back out of Damascus, Md., baited QB Bryan Randall into throwing an ill-advised pass into the end zone. As the pass sailed into the night, Brian King glided into the ball’s path, snagged it, and went to his knee, setting off a wild celebration on the Mountaineer sidelines and forever etching King’s name into the hearts of the Mountaineer faithful.
King started for West virginia from Day One of his freshman year in 2000. During his career, he experienced highs (tormenting Virginia Tech) and lows (playing with a chronically injured and fused wrist). By the time his career ended in 2003, his stat line showed that he had played in 44 games, and was credited with 270 tackles (five for loss), two sacks, 10 interceptions and 18 pass break ups. Not bad for a kid with only one D-1 offer out of high school.
BlueGoldNews.com recently touched base with King at his home in suburban Washington, D.C., to look back and also catch up with his current activities.
Q: Who recruited you to West Virginia?
King: ?I started being recruited by WVU the beginning of my junior year at Damascus High School (Damascus, Maryland) by Jerry Holmes (WVU Class of 1980). I was excited for the opportunity because not only was Coach Holmes the recruiter for my area, he was also the defensive backs coach at WVU. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to play under? Coach Holmes as he took an NFL coaching job with the Cleveland Browns shortly after signing day. From what I heard from some of the older players, Coach Holmes was a tough but fair coach and very physical as a player. I'm convinced one of the main reasons Coach Holmes went to bat for me, and convinced Donnie Young (WVU Recruiting Coordinator at the time) to also agree with my signing, was because of my physical play on film.
Q: What were your other offers coming out of Damascus?
King: I had an offer from Vanderbilt and most schools in the MAC.
Q: Were you a multi-sport athlete in High School or just football?
King: I ran track in high school my freshman and sophomore years; then focused solely on football during my junior and senior years.
Q: What sold you on WVU during the recruiting process?
King: I attended the Miami game with my family in October 1998. West Virginia lost 31-34 but the atmosphere was electric in front of more than 60,000 screaming fans. WVU was blocking punts, Charles Fisher was making interceptions, Marc Bulger was throwing TD's to David Saunders and Shawn Foreman. Morgantown sold me that night.
Q: You started your career under Don Nehlen and finished under Rich Rodriguez. What was that coaching transition like?
King: Coach Nehlen had an illustrious coaching career and decided during my red-shirt freshman year 2000 that he would retire at the end of the 2000 season. Coach Rod came in and taught us very early what it meant to play with a HARD EDGE. It took a year of growing pains as we went 3-8 my red-shirt sophomore season but we turned it around quickly going 9-4 my junior year in 2002 and 8-5 my senior year in 2003. Our motto was play fast, 'Spot the Ball' so we can get after your asses. I'm extremely proud to be a part of the turn-around at WVU, a football team that is widely considered a perennial top 25 program.
Q: Most Mountaineers fans remember you for the great games you always seemed to have against Virginia Tech. Was there something about the Hokies that got you especially fired up?
King: I was fortunate to be put in winning positions my coaches and teammates. I would never have been in position to make game winning INT's if the other 10 guys I played with weren't doing their jobs. The defenses I was part of were tight knit groups on and off the field. We were competitive as hell and we played hard for our coaches and for each other.
Q: Any regrets in your WVU career?
Q: What do you consider your proudest moment as a Mountaineer?
King: It's hard to single out 'proudest moment' but understanding the idea of 'team before self' during my senior year certainly comes to mind. We were unranked entering my senior year, but as a team, our expectations were no different than any other season: Dominate every home game and win the Big East Conference. We started the season 1-3 with losses to Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Maryland. Jahmile Addae, our starting free safety, was lost for the year after a shoulder injury during the Cincinnati game requiring season ending surgery. Monday after the Maryland game, Coach Rodriguez called me into his office to see if I would be willing to move from corner, a position I played my entire college career, to free safety. The goal was to put the best 11 players on the field at the same time. This was a turning point in our season because me moving to free safety allowed Adam 'Pacman' Jones to come in at corner opposite Lance Frazier. Our team had a bye week between the Maryland and Miami games which gave me 12 days to learn a new position. We lost a very close game at the Miami Orange Bowl that week, but despite the loss, it was definitely a key point in our season because we won our next seven games by an average of 16 points. I was proud to make the switch to free safety for the team and solidify the back-end of our defense at a time when we were all looking for answers after a 1-4 start to the season. We finished the year with a share of the Big East Conference Championship, the school's first since 1993. I am very proud of that accomplishment.
Q: How much did your permanently injured wrist play into the NFL scenario? Does your wrist still bother you to this day?
King: My wrist injury dates back to high school and got worse through college after subsequent injuries. My junior and senior years at WVU required a custom brace on game-days that prevented any wrist movement. I had to play with zero range of motion in my right hand/wrist. This was not ideal considering defensive backs are taught to be aggressive by using our hands to jam receivers at the line, re-route receivers depending on coverage, and of course make tackles in run support.
Q: What was your career plan after football was over? What do you do for a living?
King: When football ended I was very fortunate to land in Residential / Commercial Real Estate in Washington, DC.
King: I am married to my best friend, Lindsey, a 2005 graduate of WVU. We recently celebrated our four-year anniversary. We have a 16-month old son who has already verbally committed to play football at West Virginia in 2033.
Q: Do you still keep in touch with your former teammates?
King: I keep in touch with a handful of guys but the list gets smaller each passing year. One thing is for sure, everybody I played with remembers the bond we shared on the field and in the locker room and we'll never forget those memories.
Q: Do you ever get back to Morgantown for games?
King: Coach Gibson and his wife Kerry have extended my wife and me an open invitation to attend any home game this year. We have our eyes on a game in November.
Q: How excited are you to see the Hokies coming up on the Mountaineer schedule again?
King: I'm excited to see the Hokies on the schedule again. Conference realignment really scrambled my memory of the Big East which was the conference we played in during my time at WVU but I understand the business which is TV dollars, conference championship games and the College Football Playoff. To that end, Mountaineers and Hokies should be on the schedule every year!