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Five Newbies to Watch For: DB Jaylon King

To conclude the week, we look at the highest rated recruit in Tech’s incoming freshman class

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylon King comes to Tech as the highest rated recruit in the 2018 class, coming in at 257th nationally according to Rivals and 318th according to 24/7 Sports. Both sites have him as a four star recruit, while ESPN rates him a three star recruit. He chose Tech over offers from Louisville, Ole Miss, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Princeton, and others.

King was one of two commits in this cycle that Tech stole from the Commodores and Volunteers, with LB Justice Dingle out of Kentucky being the other.

Over his standout career at Ensworth High School in Nashville, King recorded touchdowns via passing, rushing, receiving, kick return, and punt return. He is undeniably a jack of all trades who Nate Woody and Paul Johnson currently plan to play at corner.

It is very possible that King plays right away this fall with the limited depth that the team will have at corner. Lamont Simmons and Ajani Kerr saw action in all 11 games last year and are the favorites to win the two starting jobs this year, but a new defensive coordinator could mean unforeseen changes. Among the other candidates to start are Tariq Carpenter, Tre Swilling, and Jaytlin Askew, all returning players, but none with much more game experience than King’s 0 snaps. Most importantly for King, he should fit perfectly into Woody’s defensive scheme. Woody has made it clear so far at Tech as well as his prior jobs that he likes corners with size who can jam receivers at the line. King stands at 6’1’’, excellent size for a cornerback in a league like the ACC full of tall, skilled wide receivers.

From his highlight tapes, a few things stand out. First, it is clear that King is a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands. He ran a sub-5.0 40 yard dash in high school, and I believe that he along with fellow freshman Juanyeh Thomas should get opportunities in fall camp to supplant Brad Stewart at punt returner and/or Nathan Cottrell at kick returner. Second, he is playing a lot of free safety in his tapes, making it a bit strange that CPJ intends to use him as a corner. That said, in the plays where he is lined up over a receiver he shows excellent recovery speed and the ability to jam receivers when playing press coverage. He also shows the ability to play slot corner on tape, making him a strong contender for playing time in nickel and dime packages. Third, it is clear that King has an abundantly high football IQ. He is clearly a bright young man off the field, as shown by his offer from Princeton. On the field, he shows great instincts on defense and the ability to understand and diagnose offensive plays quickly. When the ball is in his hands, he is very good at setting up his blocks and finding seams.

Regardless of whether he sees the field this fall or not, King has a great chance to become a standout defensive back and special teams contributor for the jackets over his career in Atlanta.