CARROLLTON - New Carrollton High School football coach Joey King has received some pretty good endorsements during his first official week on the job.
"Anybody that's going to play for [Coach King], you've got one of the best," said quarterback Trevor Lawrence in a video posted to social media by King. "Don't take it for granted."
King coached Lawrence -- the likely top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft -- at Cartersville High School, where they teamed up for a pair of state championships. Lawrence went on to star at Clemson and was a Heisman Trophy finalist this past season before deciding to turn pro. Others have reached out as well, including Carrollton alum Jonathan Jones, now a Super Bowl-winning defensive back with the New England Patriots.
King, who spent the last two seasons as a college football assistant coach, says the words of encouragement he's most appreciated have sounded a little different.
"Some of the ones that are most special to me were from people I taught in the history classroom here," said King. "Saying, 'coach, I don't know if you remember me, but you really made a difference.'"
King is hitting the ground running at Carrollton, already on the job after driving up from Tampa where he spent last season as the tight ends coach for the University of South Florida. Before that, he was an assistant at Coastal Carolina University for one season.
The Cedartown-native spent several seasons earlier in his career as an assistant coach at Carrollton High School, so he has deep ties to the community; but, King says, he was not planning on a return to the high school level.
"Really wasn't looking to do it," said King. "Had just got a promotion where I was at [USF]. They moved me from tight ends to receivers, we had talks about passing game coordinator title and all that stuff. The more I thought about [the opportunity at Carrollton], the more I prayed about it, the more my heart was drawn to it."
King says he enjoyed his college experience, and says he feels his knowledge of the game has improved. He says among the big draws of high school football are the purity of the game, and the chance to be around the student athletes more year-round and have a bigger impact.
"When I went to Coastal Carolina, I didn't know where I was going to sleep," said King. "I knew I was going to be a college football coach, and that was it. We were trusting God would continue to direct our steps. That's what happened. From Coastal we went to South Florida, and I feel whole-heartedly we're supposed to be here."