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Penn State Football Staff Has Extensive Familiarity and Recruiting Ties to Mid-Atlantic, South and East
2006 Sophomore Season
King established himself as one of the top cover-corners in the Big Ten during his sophomore season. Having played multiple positions as a freshman All-American in 2005, he was able to focus his multiple skills on the defense, starting every game at right cornerback. A second-team All-Big Ten selection, King improved throughout the season and played a substantial role in helping a secondary that featured four new starters thrive and improve. He recorded 30 tackles (22 solo), one interception, and six pass breakups. King was instrumental in helping the Penn State defense rank in the top 15 nationally in rushing (87.5 ypg, seventh), scoring (14.4 ppg, ninth), total defense (284.5 ypg, 15th) and pass efficiency defense (105.9 rating, 14th) and sacks (40, sixth tie) last season. Against Ohio State, King spent much of his day blanketing explosive wideout Ted Ginn Jr. King made a diving interception, the first of his career, of the initial pass directed to Ginn. The pick was the first of the season in 152 pass attempts overall for eventual Heisman Trophy-winner Troy Smith. King shadowed Ginn all over the field and held him to just two catches for 15 yards, and made three hits as the Lions' defense gave up only 14 points and 115 passing yards to the Buckeyes. King delivered another stellar effort in the 20-10 win over Tennessee in the Outback Bowl, limiting All-American Robert Meachem to just four catches for 33 yards. Against the dynamic Northwestern offense, King held the Wildcats' leading receiver, Shaun Herbert, to just three catches for 34 yards and made three stops. He recorded a career-high five tackles against Youngstown State and three solo stops each at Minnesota and against Illinois. In the 12-0 win at Purdue, King made two solo tackles and broke up one pass, helping to limit the nation's No. 4 passing offense to just 184 yards (125 below average). The Boilermakers were blanked for the first time under Coach Joe Tiller. King finished the regular-season strong, breaking up two passes in the Senior Day win over Michigan State. He was on the field for 900 snaps, third-highest on the squad, led by 93 plays against Akron and 90 versus Michigan State.
2005 Fresman Season
Regarded as the nation's top cornerback coming out of high school, King quickly announced his presence as a difference-maker for the Nittany Lions in his first game as a true freshman. His electrifying 61-yard dash on a reverse set up Penn State's first score of the season in the opener against South Florida and laid the foundation for numerous significant contributions on offense, defense and special teams. His efforts in invigorating the offense earned him first-team Freshman All-America honors by The Sporting News as an all-purpose player. He also was named to TSN's Freshman All-Big Ten team. The top Pennsylvania prep player in 2004, King graduated from Gateway HS in 3 1/2 years and enrolled at Penn State in January 2005 along with Derrick Williams and Francis Claude. The experience gained by participating in winter conditioning and spring practice in combination with his many skills, prepared King, like Williams, to be an immediate contributor from the season's first kickoff. Playing in every game, with five starts at wide receiver, King delivered five plays of 25 yards or longer, including the Lions' third and fourth-longest of the season, his 61-yard burst against South Florida and 59-yard scoring strike from Michael Robinson against Cincinnati. The multi-talented King carried the ball 18 times for 227 yards, posting a superlative 12.6 average. He also had 10 receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns and three kickoff returns for 40 yards. King accumulated 393 yards on just 31 touches for an impressive 12.7 yards per touch. At cornerback, he recorded 11 tackles (nine solo) with two pass breakups. King played on both sides of the ball during the initial seven games, but when Williams suffered a season-ending injury at Michigan, King focused on offense the remainder of the year. In addition to his big plays against South Florida and Cincinnati, King had a big game in the comeback win at Northwestern. He caught a 37-yard touchdown catch and had a 43-yard fourth-quarter reverse, which set up Michael Robinson's eight-yard TD just two plays later, giving Penn State its first lead of the game. King contributed two solo tackles and a pass breakup against Ohio State and made a season-high six stops (five solo) at Michigan. He had two carries for 37 yards at Illinois and four runs for 56 yards against Purdue. He made a season-high five catches against Florida State in the FedEx Orange Bowl. He saw action on 392 snaps, led by 56 against Purdue. King earned Dean's List recognition during the fall 2005 semester.
Rated the nation's top cornerback and the top player in Pennsylvania, King led Gateway HS to an 11-2 mark in his senior season and the Western Pennsylvania District 7 Class AAAA title game. He rushed for 1,902 yards and 33 touchdowns on 208 attempts. King also had nine receptions for 180 yards and three scores. Defensively, he collected 25 tackles and an interception. As a junior, King rushed for 1,763 yards and 29 touchdowns. For his career, he carried the ball 544 times for 4,519 yards, the third-highest total in District 7 Class AAAA history, and scored 59 touchdowns. Nationally recognized, King played in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, was the 2004 Gatorade Pennsylvania Player-of-the-Year and a first-team all-state selection by numerous media outlets. King shared the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Player-of-the-Year honor and was a member of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 and the Harrisburg Patriot-News Platinum 33 squads. He was co-winner of the Mercury Award, presented annually to the top player in Western Pennsylvania, and was a Parade All-American. King also was an accomplished sprinter on the track and field team for two years.
Full name is Justin Thomas King. His mother's name is Alison. His stepfather, Terry Smith, was a standout wide receiver at Penn State from 1988-91 and is the head football coach and athletic director at Gateway HS. King has a younger sister, Haley. He is majoring in letters, arts and sciences and is on schedule to graduate in December, three years after enrolling. Born May 11, 1987 in Pittsburgh.