(‘3 Guys Before the Game’ podcast with Brian King)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Take a look at the West Virginia career defensive leaders and you will find Brian King at the top of the list in pass breakups by a wide margin. He leads the way with 54 and owns the single-season record with 21 in his senior season of 2003.
“That’s just because I couldn’t catch,” King said. “If I caught a couple of those, I would have had some pick-sixes like my boy Pacman (Jones).”
All joking aside, King’s hands secured one of the biggest victories of the Rich Rodriguez era at WVU in 2002. King intercepted a Bryan Randall pass in the end zone with twelve seconds remaining as the Mountaineers upset No. 12 Virginia Tech 21-18 at Lane Stadium. The Hokies drove into the red zone and were well within field goal range to potentially tie the game.
“Later in my career, I could get away with things that I never would have thought to do early in my career. It was to leave a little cushion for the receiver, let the quarterback think there is a window there when there’s not. Most notably, that interception to end the Virginia Tech game, that’s exactly what I did. I fell back a little bit on the receiver I was covering, and let him think he could squeeze it in there. I stepped in front, took a knee and what a special memory that was.”
King arrived in Morgantown in the fall of 1999 as most true freshmen do, not physically ready to handle the demands of top-level Division I football.
“I was the definition of a guy who needed to redshirt. I needed to lift weights. I needed to get stronger. On top of that, I am a very cerebral-type player. It took that first year to watch and learn what it meant to be a Division I college football player. I can’t tell you all the little tricks and tips I picked up just from watching the starters doing one-on-one’s in practice.”
King didn’t have to wait very long to take a spot the Mountaineer secondary. He stepped right into the starting lineup in the 2000 season, collecting 42 tackles and ten pass breakups. He would go on to play in 44 games at various positions throughout the defensive backfield.
“I feel blessed to have gone to West Virginia and played so early. A guy coming out of high school who wasn’t super-highly recruited, it was just a blessing to go to West Virginia the way things worked out. To be able to start as a freshman in 2000, it was a tremendous opportunity.”
King’s career spanned the end of the Don Nehlen era and the launch of the Rich Rodriguez seven-year run. In 2002 and 2003, the Mountaineers went 17-9.
“I am really proud of those years because that pretty much laid the foundation of the team’s success between the 2004 and 2007 seasons long after I was gone.”
King was lightly recruited out of Damascus High School in Maryland despite a highly productive career as a receiver and defensive back. King’s father, Steve, took an active role in Brian’s recruiting process.
“It was my dad in the stands, filming all the games. When it came to the highlight tapes and addresses to all the schools I thought I might have a chance to play at, it was my dad firing out all that film to those schools. He was trying to see if we could get some interest.
“It was uncomfortable for me midway through high school because my dad believed in me before I believed in myself. It was to the point where I felt uncomfortable at times. Now that I am a father myself with two young boys, I see that love now that my dad had back then and the belief he had in me that I could play big-time college football.”
Steve King passed away just over a year ago, making it difficult for Brian to relive many of his glory days at WVU because of everything his father meant to make those moments happen.
“My dad is the reason I ended up in Morgantown. I lost my dad thirteen months ago and I think that I struggled with the idea of just stirring up all those old feelings from 1998-2003 and my senior year at West Virginia. So many memorable and positive experiences and they all revolve around my dad being right there.
“They were the best five years in my families’ life. And my wife jokes and says, ‘Hey, wait a minute’. In terms of football and where I kind of feel like I established myself, it was that.”
After wrapping up his playing days at WVU, King returned to the D.C. metroplex where he works in commercial real estate.
“I recently purchased a four-unit building in Washington D.C. I am dipping my toes into what it feels like to be an investor. And I am enjoying that very much.”