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Who's That Wildcat? Offensive Tackle Blake King

Name: Blake King
Position: Offensive tackle
School: Minooka High School (Minooka, Illinois)
Other offers: Toledo, Western Michigan

The Scouting Report 

From ESPN Recruiting Nation:

“King uses his initial quickness to gain and sustain an immediate advantage when run blocking. Has the height and athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition; his frame appears capable of supporting additional body mass over time. Playing out of a three point stance we see the flexibility, agility and balance needed to play on his feet in space; is athletic in a tight box while demonstrating the ability to adjust his feet to handle quick change of direction movement; Comes off the ball aggressively but a little too high at times; his quick first step gains him an advantage which he can maintain due to his blocking base and persistent leg drive; flashes good initial explosion along with the ability to roll his hips on contact." 

What he’s saying

From Scout.com:

“The best position for me to get on the field as soon as possible,” King said. 

What’s the hype? 

There may be no position for the Wildcats with greater collective upside than offensive line. It’s why on the very first day of spring practice coach Pat Fitzgerald, in describing the mostly patchwork group filling in around three injured starters (Jack Konopka, Paul Jorgensen and Matt Frazier), was taken aback by the imposing physical stature and newfound youth and depth along the line. It’s why losing three starters to graduation this offseason (left tackle Patrick Ward and guards Brian Mulroe and Neal Deiters) is seen as an uncertain but intriguing situation – the possibility of seeing the fruits of Northwestern’s recent offensive line recruiting success pay off in real live games, guys like Shane Mertz and Ian Park and Adam DePietro and Eric Olson.

The youth movement along the offensive line got another boost with the 2013 class. King joins a sturdy group that includes tackle Sam Coverdale and guard/center Brad North after declining offers from Toledo and Western Michigan. The 6’7’’, 270-pound Minooka, Ill., native brings the size and athleticism to find his footing quickly and seamlessly in a rugged Big Ten, particularly if he adds some weight over the next (probably redshirt) season, learns under his relatively veteran teammates and outworks the considerable competition at his position.

What about next season?

My mini-introduction should have resolved any questions about King’s eligibility timeline, but if it’s still unclear, I’ll make it more clear by saying that if King does not redshirt, then Northwestern’s projected rotation guys this season have severely underperformed expectations. There is no reason for King to burn a year of valuable eligibility with so many capable players already in front of him. The best option is to let him develop under Mertz, Olson, Jorgensen and Konopka while bulking up and plying his trade on scout team. That way, King will be ready to compete for a rotation spot in 2014 with a year of experience and Wildcats offensive line tutelage under his belt.

What about the future? 

One redshirt season should put King on the right path towards a successful college career. It is not insane to think Northwestern’s offensive line could be among the three or so best units in the Big Ten within the next couple of seasons. Line coach Adam Cushing is an excellent teacher and motivator, and an even better developer of young talent. The wave currently making its through the ranks, King included, could coalesce into one of the more dominant lines since Pat Fitzgerald’s arrival, and King should be a key piece, starter or no, of that progression.