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In football, the term specialist is reserved for those players involved in kicking aspects of the game, such as the punter, placekicker and long snapper.
However, when it comes to high school recruiting, the specialists oftentimes are made to feel less than special as colleges have a tendency to withhold scholarship offers for specialist players or offer them late in the process.
Grafton standout kicker and punter Reed King knows this reality all too well as National Signing Day is less than two weeks away.
While other local football players have had multiple schools approach them and offer scholarships, King has had to be more aggressive with his recruitment and reach out to schools in order to receive attention. To date, King has not been offered an athletic scholarship by any college.
“I’ve personally reached out to a good 20 or 25 schools,” King said. “It’s kind of stressful. Us specialists, we have to go to the coaches ourselves, and I’ve had to do a lot of my own recruiting.”
The lack of attention is not due to a lack of talent on King’s part. The right-footed kicker with a powerful leg connected on nine of his 12 field goal attempts this season and booted a career-long 49-yarder en route to being named a first-team All-State kicker in Group 4A.
Rather, many colleges simply choose not to offer scholarships to specialists coming out of high school. Instead, colleges will often encourage specialists to walk on at the school and then compete with other players for scholarships.
This tactic allows colleges to save scholarships for players at other positions usually deemed more valuable than specialists.
While certainly a frustrating position to be in, King is attempting to turn the situation into a positive by focusing on what he wants from college from an academic and lifestyle standpoint.
“Looking at all the schools, I have to get what I want academically, and secondary is athletics,” said King, who has above a 4.0 GPA. “It makes me focus on my academics. If I wasn’t the starting kicker there, would I still be happy? I’ve had to look inside myself and realize what I’m good at.”
This introspective mindset has resulted in a more patient King, who said he does not feel pressured to commit to a school or sign a letter of intent on National Signing Day.
Instead, King is dedicated to picking a college that will suit him best on and off the field – even if it means waiting while other local football players sign along the dotted line without him.
King will be taking an official visit to Virginia Military Institute on Jan. 29, which he views in a very favorable light because they were one of the few schools to approach him, but he is also considering Old Dominion University in his top group of schools.
He has also had conversations with coaches from Ferrum, Mercer, Wofford, Coastal Carolina, Liberty, North Carolina State, University of Virginia and University of Connecticut.
Wherever King ends up committing, it will be for reasons that stretch beyond kicking, which he said is only a small part of what he has to offer as a potential student-athlete at the next level.
“I’m more than just a kicker,” he said. “Instead of relying on all of these offers, it’s made me realize there’s more to life after sports. There’s more to me than my leg.”