Saturday will mark the last time Pitt’s seniors run onto Heinz Field in the blue and gold. While it is sad to see them go, that’s just how college football works. Of course, recruiting keeps college football’s “circle of life” turning, and Pitt will play host to multiple current and future recruits at their regular season finale. Among the recruits attending Saturday’s game is Tyler King, a 6’1” 220-pound linebacker from nearby Pine-Richland High School.
As a sophomore in high school, it is still quite early in the recruiting process for King. In fact, he did not expect the process to even be underway at this point.
“It’s been pretty cool seeing how these teams are inviting me up to their games and stuff like that,” says Tyler. “I didn’t think I was going to be recruited this early, so it’s interesting to see how it is.”
College coaches are not yet permitted to establish direct contact with class-of-2019 recruits. However, they may communicate through letters, game invitations, and messages relayed through a player’s high school coach. Through these means, Tyler not only receives correspondence from interested universities – he receives correspondence from some pretty prestigious FBS programs.
“Michigan State sent me something, and then Penn State, Pitt, and UNC were also interested. And I went down to a camp in UNC.”
Saturday will be the second time King attends a Pitt game this season. Heinz Field is about a 30-minute drive from the Pine-Richland area, and making the trip provides Tyler with an opportunity to monitor Pitt’s progress under Pat Narduzzi – a coach who has impressed Tyler in 2016.
“I like what he’s doing—obviously beat #2 Clemson, beat Penn State. So he’s obviously doing something right.”
Athletics is just one of the three factors that will dictate Tyler’s decision when it comes time to choose a school. King established these factors when reflecting on what he considers as priorities in the decision making process.
“I have a top three I had to fill out for something. I had academics, athletics, and environment.”
But does Pitt qualify as a suitable school for all three of these requirements?
“They’re up there in all three aspects,” Tyler proclaimed.
King’s sophomore season ended a few weeks ago when Pine-Richland lost to Pittsburgh Central Catholic in the WPIAL playoffs. For Tyler, the second round exit failed to meet his team’s goals.
“As a team, it’s not what we wanted. Our goal was to win the section, to win the WPIAL, and to win the state. And we didn’t do any of those.”
With the return of players like Tyler King and Notre Dame commitment Phil Jurkovec Pine-Richland will be a major 6A competitor once again in 2017. As a two-way player, King contributes on both sides of the ball for his high school. On offense, Tyler lines up at both fullback and H-back. On defense, he lines up at linebacker: the position he envisions himself playing in college. Linebacker is also the position at which he led the WPIAL’s 6A classification in total tackles this season. Per MaxPreps, King registered 100 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss, and 1.0 sack in 12 games. Most young men would be thrilled to lead the WPIAL ‘s largest classification in tackles, but Tyler still sees room for improvement.
“As a player I think [the 2016 season] was alright, but I had more plays I could have made,” Tyler says. “In this [upcoming] year, I’ll be making those plays. There’ll be more splash plays.”
— Tyler King (@_tk_97_) November 16, 2016
When asked about the kind of player he is on the field, Tyler replied by describing his personality and work ethic.
“I would say I gotta be a leader. I’m always hard working. And, I play every play 100-percent.”
No official offers have been extended to Tyler as of yet, but as previously stated, it remains early in the recruiting process. If Pitt were to offer, would King consider continuing his football career at the University of Pittsburgh?
“I would definitely go there if I was offered. It would definitely be one of my top schools, yeah.”
King is reluctant to establish a favorite school before receiving any official offers. However, judging by the on-field production displayed by the standout linebacker this season, and the schools already expressing interest in his future, it sounds like a matter of “when” and not “if” those offers will begin to arrive.
// Featured image: Photo courtesy of Tyler King