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Takeaways from the Takeaway King: ‘I know what I came here to do’

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Kalen King scores a touchdown after an interception

Kalen King only arrived at Penn State in January, but the true freshman cornerback already has become one of the most publicized players on the Nittany Lion team.

It mostly stems from this comment by James Franklin two weeks ago, leading up to PSU’s first scrimmage inside Beaver Stadium.

“Kalen King is probably the most advanced freshman that we have had since we’ve been here in terms of his ability to practice and compete, both physically and mentally,” Franklin said.

In the opening minutes of that first spring scrimmage, King picked off a pass from Ta’Quan Roberson and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. Because, of course, that’s exactly what you’d expect “the most advanced freshman” to do in his debut.

King had another interception later in that opening scrimmage, off a pass from Sean Clifford intended for Parker Washington in the end zone. King also got a lot of reps with the first-team defense in the scrimmages, and Monday he received the following spring practice award:

King did an interview with Mitch Gerber from the Penn State communications staff following the second scrimmage and was asked about his takeaways from the spring and adjusting to college life.

“I would say my biggest takeaway from the spring was consistency, because the way Coach Franklin teaches this team, it’s like everything matters at all times,” King said. “So like the little things, from body weight to meal plans to just me getting used to college early.”

One of the things he’s had to get used to is something all college athletes face — time management.

“I would say waking up early, because coming from high school, everything was really done after school,” King said. “So I’d say waking up early and carrying throughout the day with different things. My schedule here is very busy, so I’m just getting used to making up time here, there, just like a cycle really.”

King knows he’ll have an opportunity to play a good bit as a true freshman, and at this point given what we already know about him, we probably can expect to see him on the field a good bit this fall.

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But the freshman knows he still has things to work on between now and then.

“I just want to work on mastering the playbook,” King said. “Because me, I believe that I can play real early here. I think the only thing that would set me back would be my understanding of the playbook. I know most of the playbook right now, but I’ve still got some things to touch up on. So, in the summer, I’ll definitely be in tune with the playbook.”

Gerber asked King a good question about receiving so much attention already, despite just arriving on campus a few months ago.

“I don’t really pay that much attention to it because I know what I came here to do,” King said. “I came here to go to the next level. So, I’m carrying through right now, I’m just trying to build myself, become better every day. I just use it as a source of motivation really.”

You can watch King’s interview below.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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