football Edit

Penn State staff impressed by early returns from Kalen and Kobe King

When Penn State cornerbacks coach Terry Smith was asked for his thoughts on Kalen King just after he signed his letter of intent last December, Smith didn't hesitate to set some short-term expectations.

"Kalen is an elite athlete, and I think you guys saw from his senior film what we had seen in his junior film, and he took it to a whole other level," Smith said then. "Just excited about the opportunity of him coming in and having an immediate impact to help us get better."

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Penn State has added two quality freshmen in twin brothers Kalen and Kobe King.
CB Kalen King has only been on campus a few months, but he's already impressed Penn State's players and coaches.

Even then, the thought was that King could help the Nittany Lions sooner rather than later. And, while it's too early to project their roles for the upcoming fall with any certainty, Kalen's brother Kobe has joined him in raising some eyebrows this spring.

"They're just so mature," head coach James Franklin said of the two early enrollees. "Their approach has been so mature in terms of how to prepare physically and mentally, how to compete. It's been really impressive."

Franklin said he's often found the King brothers in the facility on the weekends, or when there are no team activities scheduled.

They'll take extra reps on the JUGS machine or watch some extra film — whatever they can do to get that extra bit of work in.

Needless to say, Franklin and everyone else within the Penn State program has taken notice.

"They're really approaching it the right way, that I think is going to allow them to compete at a very high level this summer for playing time on defense, on special teams, and probably both," Franklin said.

"We knew both were good, but both have probably come in better than we anticipated, especially from an approach and a maturity standpoint."

While the emphasis this spring has been on the mental side of the game when it comes to the King brothers, there's no doubt that they're physical talents as well.

Kalen entered this spring at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds. Rivals gave him a four-star rating and ranked him as the 10th best corner in his class, and the No. 135 overall player.

Kobe came into the spring at 6-foot-1, 242 pounds. Like his brother, Rivals gave him a four-star rating, and ranked him as the No. 15 inside linebacker in the Class of 2021.

"Kalen King's looking good," safety Jaquan Brisker said last week. "He's looking fast, explosive, things like that. He's not looking like a freshman, but he is. He's been comfortable. I'm glad he made it here for the spring. He's making great strides. He's gonna be good. He's gonna be a good one."

Part of the King brothers' ability to make a solid first impression may have partially come from the system they played at Cass Tech high school in Detroit, Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith explained earlier this week.

Smith said the defensive scheme the King brothers came from is far more advanced and structured than the typical high school setup. With knowledge of one structure, it's much easier to simply learn and apply yourself to another than it is to learn a true defensive scheme for the first time, Smith reasoned.

As a result, Smith said he thinks Kobe should have few problems making some kind of impact this season at linebacker.

"He's been making great strides throughout the spring practice," Smith said. "He's the new guy coming in, early enrolled. He's definitely ahead of what I was when I first came in as far as knowledge of the playbook and just being as comfortable as he is right now."


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