East Texas 25: No. 24 Jawan King, RB, Atlanta
Each day from June 6-30, ETSN will release one story in a countdown of the top 25 East Texas football recruits for the class of 2019. The following is the second installment on No. 24, Jawan King.
ATLANTA -- When Atlanta heads to the locker room on Friday nights for halftime adjustments, its star running back is usually absent.
Instead, Jawan King can be found on the field with the marching band.
King has played the tuba since sixth grade and is part of the marching and concert bands. Although it doesn't allow him to rest much during games, King said doing both helped him to mature more and learn how to prioritize his time.
If it's an important game, he'll skip the halftime performance.
“Me and the band director have a pact that if it’s a close game and he’s got a bunch of carries, he stays in to rest," coach Matt McClure said.
King is involved in more than football and band, though. He is also the vice president of Cass County's 4H club and started working for a moving company this summer. He rarely has free moments.
But of his many interests, football reigns supreme.
King has a rare blend of size and skill that makes him extremely difficult to bring down. He runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, McClure said. If defenders are able to catch him, they have to wrestle down his 5-10, 213-pound frame.
“You get spoiled as a coach having that combination," McClure said. "You usually get a guy that has a lot of speed but isn’t very big or a big guy that’s not very fast. To have both in the same package is pretty good.”
Although Atlanta traditionally works out of a shotgun offense, McClure said King's skill has allowed them to test the waters with different formations.
"We’ve dabbled into getting under center and putting him back there like a true tailback," he said. "We’re probably going to add a two-back formation to our offense. Just for him to get downhill. He can do everything that we do in our offense. He’s a big, true tailback guy, so we’re adding a few of those things to our offense.”
King said his biggest improvement this offseason will be mental. He used the transition from his sophomore to junior year honing his skills and working in the weight room to prepare for his first year as a starter. Although he's certainly not taking time off from that this offseason, he wants to develop as a leader and focus on helping others reach their goals.
"I know a lot of stuff that I need to work on and I know stuff other people need to work on," he said. "It’s kind of just hitting those weak spots and trying to get those before the season starts. I’ve heard that player-led teams are the best teams. That kind of just sparked me and made me think I should be the one to step up and lead the team.”
He has already received offers from Louisiana-Monroe, UTSA and Texas State. But King's recruitment has't reached its full potential.
Jeff Traylor, the associate head coach at Arkansas, has a long-standing relationship with King dating back to this past season when he was at SMU under the same title. The two have continued talking and King will attend a camp in Fayetteville on Saturday.
He also lists Houston, Kansas State and, recently, Texas A&M as schools that have expressed interest but not offered. King said the usual factors of education, coaching relationships and general feel for the city are important in making his college decision, but distance also plays a big role.
"Everybody is an option, but if I can help it, I don’t want to be too far away where I have to drive 13 or 15 hours just to get back home,” he said.
Atlanta finished 5-6 in 2017, falling in the first round of the playoffs to Jasper. To get farther than that, King will need to embrace the leadership role he has adopted this offseason. It appears he's off to a good start.
“I like that role," he said. "I like to carry weight. We do have another back that is going to be pretty solid when he gets to play a lot more. But I do like being the guy. Who doesn’t want to be the guy?”