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Penn State Preseason Top 10: No. 2 CB Kalen King

Maybe the best cornerback Terry Smith has coached?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 26 Michigan State at Penn State Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s time for our annual season top 10! Each summer, the staff votes on its top 10 players ahead of the upcoming season. A first place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth nine points, and so on.

Reminder: This is a Top 10 for how the players will produce this season. It’s not just based on what they have done in their career up to this point. Instead, it’s how we think they will play this coming season.


A four-star prospect in the 2021 recruiting class, Kalen King came to Penn State largely thanks to previous co-defensive coordinator Tim Banks. Banks was a Detroit native himself, and was money on his home turf during the 2021 cycle, landing Kalen, his twin brother Kobe, and safety Jaylen Reed all from Michigan. While Banks wound up leaving Penn State for the defensive coordinator job at Tennessee that offseason, it was quite the parting gift for the Nittany Lions.

King enrolled early at Penn State and enjoyed the fruits of the labor, playing in all 13 games as a freshman and making one start in the process. Although his true freshman season showed that King had some warts — he got called for holding about 77 times — it was clear that the Nittany Lions had a very good, promising player who was scratching the surface on the level of player he could be.

It didn’t take long for King to burst past the surface, as he was amazing as a sophomore in 2022. Starting opposite Joey Porter Jr., he finished the year with 18 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery, en route to All-Big Ten honors and a couple All-American honors from some outlets like PFF.


A cornerback expertise clinic? I mean, cornerbacks coach Terry Smith has had some good ones over the year — perhaps led by 2023 second round pick Joey Porter Jr. — but King very well might be the best one. Other than the fact he’s not super long and only comes in at 5-foot-11, he really doesn’t have any other negatives. He’s an incredibly smooth player, who has the long speed and short-area agility to stick with wide receivers all over the field. His instincts are top notch, whether it’s turning back and playing the ball or recognizing a run play and firing toward the line of scrimmage. The kid is special, and was rightly named a preseason AP All-American on Monday.

Plus, his dancing on KeAndre Lambert-Smith’s TikTok make me laugh every time.

That might mean something to 99.9% of smart people, but I’m not paid handsomely by BSD to be smart.