Dallas County’s King to play football at Graceland

Published 5:52 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2017

PLANTERSVILLE — Dallas County senior offensive lineman Leonard King Jr. used to judge his practice performance based on how many times Hornets’ head coach Marty Smith would call his name.

On Wednesday, King was set to sign paperwork to officially sign with Graceland University in Iowa when he heard a familiar call from the crowd.

“Rev!” Smith shouted loudly from across the Dallas County High library. When everyone looked his direction, the coach let out a laugh before admitting he “just had to do it one last time.”

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King goes by the nickname “Rev” because of his strong faith and passion for spreading the word of God. Smith gave King the nickname because after the team’s first weight lifting session in 2015, King asked if he could lead a prayer. Smith agreed and afterward, he told King that the prayer sounded one from a “good old Southern Baptist reverend preacher.”

“That’s how it stuck,” Smith said with a laugh.

King currently serves as the social minister at Potter Place Church.

“When I was 7 years old, I started preaching,” King said. “I’ve been preaching going on 13 years in September, and God has blessed me to be able to preach all over the state and all over the land. It’s a passion of mine and God has called me to bring the gospel to people all around the world.”

King is also a standout football player. He started the year at tackle but moved to center this year and was a consistent blocker for the Hornets throughout the year.

He had received three offers over the last several weeks — Culver-Stockton College in Missouri, Huntingdon College in Montgomery and Graceland.

“Graceland was in a great need for offensive lineman, and they offered me a package I couldn’t refuse,” King said.

“I followed their track record that they have. They have a lot of players from the south, from Florida, Georgia and Alabama and that really made me feel at home knowing I would have some guys that are from the south and know how cold it’s going to be up there.”

One of his new teammates will be Southside High School’s Chris Edwards, who signed with Graceland on National Signing Day.

“I played against him. I don’t really know him, but I guess I’ll be getting to know him,” King said of Edwards.

King is the third Hornets’ player to sign this year, joining Patrick Haskell and Paul Daniels.  Dallas County athletic director Willie Moore said King is a tremendous student and person and that he’s going to represent the school well in the future.

“I know a lot of people respect Michael Johnson and what he’s done here as far as character is concerned,” Moore said of NFL standout, who graduated from Dallas County.

“Leonard is on par with the Michael Johnson types that come through here. He’s a good student, classy person, a man of character. I wish we had more kids like him. It makes coaching easy when you have kids like that. Not a single person on this campus can say a bad word about him.”