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The Biggest Surprises of 2006: #3 - Justin King

We all knew Justin King was the real deal on the day he signed his letter of intent with Penn State as the #1 ranked high school cornerback in the country. He electrified us on the offense in 2005, but this was his first year playing defense full time. Nittany Lion fans were used to watching Alan Zemitis shut down half of the field. We were sure Justin King would reach that point someday, but we didn't realize how quickly he would get to that point.

King looked a little inexperienced against Akron and Notre Dame. Akron running back Dennis Kennedy absolutely ran over King a few times immediately calling to question his tackling ability. Against Notre Dame he looked absolutely lost playing zone coverage and getting picked apart. By the start of Big Ten play the coaches made the decision to stop babying the inexperienced secondary and allow them to play man-to-man coverage. It was then we started to see what Justin King could do.

Against Ohio State he held Ted Ginn Jr. to 2 catches and 15 yards while intercepting a pass from Heisman winner Troy Smith. Against Tennessee he held All American wide receiver Robert Meachem to four catches and 33 yards.

The above pictured Xavier Harris? Two catches. 24 yards. Yeah.

All season long he was vitually invisible on the field. At the end of many games you may have asked yourself if Justin King was even on the field because you didn't hear his name mentioned often. He only had 22 tackles and one interception on the season. Search the website and you will be hard pressed to find pictures of him. It's not because he played poorly. On the contrary just the opposite. He was a shutdown corner. Teams avoided throwing to his side of the field which is why you never heard Pam Ward say, "The pass is incomplete. No wait now they say it's intercepted by Justin Kennedy!"

So in conclusion, we all knew Justin King would be a good one someday. I'm not sure anyone expected him to be this good this fast.

Previous Surprises of 2006
#4 - Sean Lee
#5 - Paul Posluszny