When it comes to living up to the ideals that are instilled in the young men and women at West Point, there may be no better example than Black Knights senior linebacker Andrew King.
A story defensive coordinator Jay Bateman likes to tell may best summarize King’s character.
“Whether we have arrived at a hotel, an airport or wherever, after everybody gets off the bus he goes to the back and then walks from back to front to make sure there is no trash and that nobody has left anything behind,” said Bateman, who came to West Point prior to King’s sophomore season. “That is just how he is built. He is a really special kid.”
King credits such qualities to his father, Rhonny, a 21-year veteran of the NYPD. King was a young boy during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and his father was among the first responders. The events of that horrible day combined with his father’s career of service have had a profound impact on the younger King.
“You see a lot of stuff in the media now and I don’t know if my dad is going to make it home at night,” he said. “For him to lay his life on the line every day is an honor in itself and I am happy to have a dad like that. Some people are less fortunate and I am one of the lucky ones.”
That feeling of pride and good fortune extends beyond his father’s call of duty and to the lessons that have been handed down.
“My dad instilled in me at a young age that you need to be a good person, first,” said the Queens Village, N.Y., native. “You also need to get good grades and be good in your community. I was (seven years old) when I started playing football and he said it is what you do off the field that will help you produce on the field.”
King has certainly produced on the field. Last season he tied for the team lead with 92 tackles and led the way with 16.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. His 1.4 TFLs per game were among the nation’s leaders.
While he would likely be a young man of high character without football, it is the sport that has reinforced and instilled key life lessons.
“Hard work, determination, grit, and most importantly, teamwork,” he said when asked about how the game has helped shape him. “I can’t make it without the other 10 guys on the field and the 100 or so on the team.”
While King, who has an uncle that is a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force, knew he wanted to serve the country, it was by no means a given that he would spend his college years on the banks of the Hudson River.
“I didn’t know West Point was going to be my exact path until senior year of high school,” he said. “I knew that I definitely wanted to serve my country in some way shape or form, whether it was through public service or in the military. It has always been in my mind to give back to the country, which has given me so much.”
To say the law and legal studies major has given his all to the academy would be a considerable understatement. His dedication to and respect for the corps, work in the classroom and leadership in the middle of the Black Knights’ defense are reasons why he is on the Wuerffel watch list.
“I do not know if there is a guy on our football team that is more respected than Andrew King,” said third-year coach Jeff Monken. “It is likely the cadets that know him would hold him among the highest and best of his classmates within the corps. That is because he is so professional and smart. People respect and trust him because they see him performing and he can back up what he says. Her cares deeply about his teammates, this program and certainly this institution.”
This article originally appeared Sept. 1, 2016 on FootballMatters.org
Above: Courtesy of Pat Tewey/Army West Point Athletics