LB Greg King is ready to 'rock and roll'

Charlie Coiner on the benefits of learning multiple positions

Greg  King

Greg King

When Greg King was in middle school back in Memphis he was beaten up for refusing to join a gang.

An elbow was damaged enough to require surgery that included insertion of a plate, rod and screws.

King's chief concern: Can I still play football?

It's a question he's had to ask over and over during his career as a linebacker at Tennessee.

Despite an assortment of injuries and surgeries to knees and elbows — plus a concussion — the answer is still yes.

"How do I feel?'' King said this week. "I'm ready to roll. Rock and roll.''

King is a redshirt junior still hoping to stay healthy enough to fulfill the promise he held as a 2009 recruit. He's one of the few left from former coach Lane Kiffin's only signing class.

King appeared in nine games as a true freshman, starting two. It would have been more but he chipped a bone in his elbow against Vanderbilt, his second start, and was prematurely done for the season.

In the two years since, he's played in only five games.

Four of them were in 2010 before he underwent season-ending knee surgery in October.

In 2011 he got in one game, Florida, on special teams. The good news was

that he was able to qualify for a redshirt.

Frustration? You bet.

"But that's part of football,'' King said. "You tend to get up and down but you've just got to keep moving.''

When the Vols scrimmaged last Friday, King was moving. He was credited with a team-high seven total tackles, four of them unassisted.

"Greg is doing a lot better,'' said coach Derek Dooley.

"Greg's biggest issue is I don't know if he's practiced more than a week at a time since I've been here in two years.''

Besides the season-ending injuries, there has been an assortment of other dings that have kept King from sustaining any momentum.

"I kept practicing,'' he said. "I'm not trying to give no excuses.

"But sometimes your body don't tend to give as much. You break down. I'm like a rusty chain.''

King laughed at his analogy. Laughter comes a little easier now that he's feeling sound enough to go full speed.

Listed at 238 pounds, he has spent time both inside and outside in the new 3-4 defensive front being installed by new coordinator and linebacker coach Sal Sunseri.

"Love him, great coach,'' King said of Sunseri. "He's a coach that knows how to be a coach and can be a good friend at the same time.''

Dooley likes King's size and power and his positive attitude.

Coming out of Memphis Melrose, King was rated the No. 31 inside linebacker prospect by Rivals.com. He had offers from Miami, Auburn and Alabama, among others.

King justified the hype, recording 24 tackles as a true freshman in 2009 and had a timely interception against South Carolina.

It just seems so long ago.

"We've just got to keep him on the field,'' Dooley said.

"I will reserve judgment until we go through a spring without him getting hurt.''

Follow Mike Strange at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange

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Comments » 27

VolinCalif writes:

Do it young man.

papavol writes:

we're going to need all 238+ pounds of you this season. Stay Healthy, crack some skulls (not your own) GO VOLS!

bigorangesob writes:

Time to shine

AllVol1 writes:

Would love to see Mr. King rock and roll this season and leave the injury bug behind. But, I most applaud his ability to meet adversity and keep coming back. That life lesson will strengthen long after football. Blessings to you, Greg. Here's to the hope of a wonderful season and career for you. Go Vols!

born2ride writes:

Kiffin and Ed Orgeron knew the importance of keeping in-state players home.

orange_eVOLution writes:

Time to bring it. This is a very important season and we need every player to step up and DO IT.

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

hell yea!!!!!!!!! greg king!!!!! Kick @$$!!!!!! this is the spirit we need!!! 12-0!!!! lets do it!!!! no excuses!!!! WE ARE UT, I SAID ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL< I SAID ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL!!!!!!

AlexAndersonAAradio writes:

We just don't have any game changers on defense. I think Gordon is one but he's usually 3rd team on the depth chart.

PUL4VOLS writes:

It's time to wear the Crown and hit somebody Mr. King. I hope this will be your year big guy.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

Stay positive, work hard and the best of success to you young man.

He has the willpower and the Big Orange heart so now I hope he stays injury free the rest of his career and proves he can be 1 of the best and make it to the next level.

VFL...GBO!!!

tovolny writes:

Mike Strange knows how to write an item that will be read by mostly Vol supporters. You would think GoVolsXtra would be that type of site. THEN, along comes Long John Adams with his guns a'blaze trying to be like his hero, Dennis Miller. He makes fun of the state of Tennessee, UT, and UT fans. Adams gets about 90% negative reponses and/or feedback but KNS still keeps him around. The sooner Griff can be in charge the better. Strange, Chapin and Griff...two Kings and the Queen of Hearts beats a pair of JACKS any day. The faster KNS can make this happen, the better the request for ads will start coming in. Wouldn't it be nice if we had the local newspaper support that the Columbus Dispatch provides Ohio State. Can you imagine KNS having a 30 minute TV Sporting News that is dedicated to UT sports? Hey, do you think anybody would want to run an ad on that show?

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

King has always been a really good player, just stayed hurt all the time.

movol77 writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

We just don't have any game changers on defense. I think Gordon is one but he's usually 3rd team on the depth chart.

You can write more confidently about Gordon as a game changer. Gordon makes big plays. Albeit, he gives up some too.

VolnPickwick writes:

in response to RockyToptoNeyland:

hell yea!!!!!!!!! greg king!!!!! Kick @$$!!!!!! this is the spirit we need!!! 12-0!!!! lets do it!!!! no excuses!!!! WE ARE UT, I SAID ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL< I SAID ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL!!!!!!

12-0 might be a stretch, but I am with you, Go Vols, Go Dooley---IT'S GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL!!

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Go Vols..........Nationwide...We are back..

GerryOP writes:

in response to RockyToptoNeyland:

hell yea!!!!!!!!! greg king!!!!! Kick @$$!!!!!! this is the spirit we need!!! 12-0!!!! lets do it!!!! no excuses!!!! WE ARE UT, I SAID ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL< I SAID ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL!!!!!!

Hang in there RTop, 141 days to kickoff!

MemphoVol writes:

in response to RockyToptoNeyland:

hell yea!!!!!!!!! greg king!!!!! Kick @$$!!!!!! this is the spirit we need!!! 12-0!!!! lets do it!!!! no excuses!!!! WE ARE UT, I SAID ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL< I SAID ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL!!!!!!

Hey, RockyTop, every try decaf?!? Like your spirit, but I'm afraid you're going to hurt yourself before the season even starts.

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

We just don't have any game changers on defense. I think Gordon is one but he's usually 3rd team on the depth chart.

I would agree this was true under the Wilcox west coast defense. I suspect it will be different under Coach Sal who knows, very well, what is required to defend in the SEC.

tnbigg writes:

B R I N G I T B I G T I M E! 2012 Football Vols...ready to right the wrongs & roll out the new era of Vol football! Back in the drivers eat with passion, power, determination & in your face football. Greg King gets his wish to be a huge contributor to an incredible turnaround! Oh yeah...trolls? Spare your ignorant ramblings. You ain't experts. You ain't brilliant. You are ignorant. Most are the exemplification of wishiwassomebodybutiaintology. Case closed!

orangeyouglad writes:

Not sure if he will ever become a "force" but he should provide a breather for the starters without having too much of a drop off in talent.

clvolfan writes:

Thanks for staying the course,Greg.
You've earned the right to get out there and have a great year.Hope you can really be ready when the first game rolls around in the GA. dome.

vol4good#206163 writes:

in response to RockyToptoNeyland:

hell yea!!!!!!!!! greg king!!!!! Kick @$$!!!!!! this is the spirit we need!!! 12-0!!!! lets do it!!!! no excuses!!!! WE ARE UT, I SAID ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL< I SAID ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL!!!!!!

HooRaa!

Recfour writes:

Any idea where King is on the depth chart? Here is a guy who looked very promising as a freshman but then disappeared. Id love for him to live up to all that potential he showed early on in his career. Best of luck to you! GBO VFL

Volunatic writes:

Greg King is a great guy, and he has always kept a great attitude. I know it was hard for him last season when he wasn't getting much playing time.
He is also a very good father, from what I've heard.
I'm rooting for him to have a GREAT season this year. I think he has the ability and the work ethic to really help the Vols.

DannyVol writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

We just don't have any game changers on defense. I think Gordon is one but he's usually 3rd team on the depth chart.

AJ Johnson and Maggitt are definitely game changers and in a 3-4 could be absolute monsters. I agree with Gordon, however.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to MemphoVol:

Hey, RockyTop, every try decaf?!? Like your spirit, but I'm afraid you're going to hurt yourself before the season even starts.

Good advice! We can't afford to have any of our true fans peaking too early! Build up steady for that long, slow burn and then flash over on football Saturdays. GBO!!! TCB!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to DannyVol:

AJ Johnson and Maggitt are definitely game changers and in a 3-4 could be absolute monsters. I agree with Gordon, however.

Regardless of formations or personnel, I think the change in attitude that Sunseri seems to be installing will make for more of an attacking style of defense than we saw last year. With the offense too often flaming out, it seemed that the defense was playing with a "bend-don't-break" philosophy, because it was clear that the Vols weren't going to outscore many teams. If the offense is as much better as I think it will be this year, the defense can afford to take more chances to make big plays.

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