There isn’t a player in Oklahoma’s locker room with higher expectations than David King. Ask any coach about him and praise comes in bunches.
“I believe he’s ready for a great year,” Sooner coach Bob Stoops said about the senior defensive lineman.
If he has one, it could help OU turn its defensive fortunes around. There isn’t a defensive lineman with more on his plate than King. The preseason started with him finally solidifying himself as a starting defensive end. Now it appears he’ll play defensive tackle and try to plug any hole that pops up on the defensive line.
“I’m just going to try and do the best I can down inside and fill that void we have down there,” King said.
But King is different from most of the defensive linemen the Sooners have had over the last dozen years. They’ve had some great ones with Tommie Harris, Dusty Dvoracek, Gerald McCoy, Jeremy Beal and Frank Alexander. What makes King different is he can play just about anywhere on the line. He’s 6-5 and 285 pounds, but still fast enough to blow by an offensive tackle. Harris and McCoy were both tackles who had the ability to also rush off the edge. That speed was the reason both were first-round draft picks.
King hasn’t put up their numbers, though. Over the last two years, he’s played in 24 games, started eight of them, but has only made 24 tackles and three career sacks.
Why has it taken King so long to get the major role?
Well, jumping ahead of Jeremy Beal, Frank Alexander or Ronnell Lewis isn’t exactly easy. He’s also a late bloomer in every sense.
“When I first came here, I only weighed about 220 pounds. It took me a while to put on weight,” King said.
The weight is what makes King different. Defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright can’t recall the Sooners ever having a bigger defensive end than King. The typical defensive end weighs at least 30 pounds less.
More often than not OU defensive ends wind up at linebacker if they reach the NFL.
“They aren’t gonna turn him into a linebacker,” Wright said about King.
There isn’t another defensive end that OU could move down inside and expect him to hold up against double teams from guards and a center. Wright, who has raved about King since the spring, believes his professional future will likely be at defensive tackle.
This season he’ll play anywhere the Sooners need him.
“The goal is to get our best four defensive linemen on the field,” Wright said. “He’s one of the best.”
If King has a preference, he won’t voice it. He was voted a team captain earlier this week and was the only defensive player to get the nod. He’s a team guy through and through.
“As a kid, he’s wonderful,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “He’s an incredibly responsible guy. He always does what he needs to do in the classroom and off the field. He’s a great worker in the weight room. He’s one of the strongest guys we have on the team. Just consistently a good teammate and a hard-working player for us. …Hopefully he’s ready to step up.”
King has been around long enough that he knows what’s expected from him this year.