Kentucky football: Big Ten schools stood out, but Wildcats proved best for LB Alex King
MASON, Ohio — The timing felt right for Alex King.
It was on an official visit. He and Andy Buh, the former outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator, were on Kentucky’s practice field. That’s when King told Buh he was committing to Kentucky.
“He just picked me up,” King said. “He was like, ‘I could kiss you right now.’ ”
King, a 3-star linebacker from Mason, Ohio, is a top-10 prospect in Kentucky’s 2017 class, according to 247Sports. He graduates from high school in a few weeks, but he already was wearing his Kentucky gear when SEC Country met with him Wednesday night as part of our Next Generation series in which we’ll meet with several signees of Kentucky’s 2017 class.
Here’s part of our conversation with King focusing on the recruiting process.
Q: You can play defensive end or outside linebacker. What has the Kentucky coaching staff told you as far as your position?
A: That I would play the jack linebacker, where Josh Allen is playing. In high school, like in practices, I felt really comfortable with that. I feel like I have more freedom with my moves.
Q: How much did Kentucky’s success last season impact your decision?
A: It impacted me a lot. Seeing them in a bowl game, even them beating Louisville was a big thing. It just gave me a thought of how Kentucky could be really good in the future.
Q: What have the coaches told you as far as playing time in your first season?
A: My mindset is I want to go in here and not be timid. I want to get in there, make some noise and just try my best. If my best is not enough, I just have to keep working.
Q: Which school came in second?
A: I really liked Michigan State. We went there a couple times. Coach Harlon [Barnett], I really liked him a lot. But, what my mom was saying, we did our homework. We looked at the rosters, seeing how I’d fit in. They had a bunch of other guys that played. My position was packed, and it’d take me a long time to get on the field. We looked at Kentucky, and I’m trying to get on the field as soon as I can. Not just wait till my senior year or my junior year. I liked Michigan State a lot, though.
Q: Now that you’ve gone through the recruiting process, what advice would you give to juniors who are about to do the same thing?
A: If you really like a school, go on a visit. Don’t say, ‘I’m going to go to Wisconsin because they’re a winning team.’ Go there if you’re serious. See the environment, see the players, see the coaches. It’s a long process, a long, stressful process talking to coaches every night. Have your parents help you out. You can’t do it by yourself.
Q: What was the funniest interaction you had with another head coach?
A: From Cincinnati, [Luke] Fickell. When I was working out, Ty Sponseller — he’s a linebacker at UC — Ty wouldn’t let me work out unless I talked to Fickell. I’m like, ‘All right, I’ve got to talk to Fickell.’ And then we talked. That was just something out of the blue. I wasn’t expecting that.
Q: With Cincinnati so close by, was there mutual interest there?
A: I heard from them sophomore year. After that, nothing else.
Q: Was there a school that disappointed you in the process?
A: My freshman year, we went to a couple games at Ohio State. I knew Ohio State was good before. I went to a game and was like, ‘I like this place a lot.’ And then the same year I went to a camp and did pretty good, but I didn’t hear from them. Ohio State was my dream school. But then as the process came on, I had to be realistic. Other schools were showing me interest. I just felt like I needed to move on. It’s kind of like missing out with a girlfriend — keep talking and texting her, but she doesn’t show any interest. You’ve just got to move on [laughs].
Q: Are you happy with how it all worked out in the end?
A: Yeah, definitely. I feel like if I didn’t commit, I probably wouldn’t be as happy with another school.
Check back later this summer for more from our Next Generation visit with Alex King.