Deon King Graduates from Norfolk State

Lynden Trail and Deon King

The “student” part of the term student-athlete is sometimes overlooked. Athletes are often remembered more for what they do inside the lines, as opposed to what they accomplish in the classroom. However, this is not the legacy former Norfolk State linebacker Deon King wants to leave. King was one of more than 40 former Spartan student-athletes who walked across the Norfolk Scope stage during the NSU commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6. King recently completed his Bachelor of Science  in building construction technology following a year spent chasing – and fulfilling – his dream of playing in the NFL. “Saturday was the most important day of my life,” King said. “I am so proud to be an alumnus of Norfolk State.”

As a senior at South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia, King did not draw a lot of attention from college recruiters and chose to attend Fork Union Military Academy for one year. He improved his grades in the classroom and joined the Norfolk State football team in the summer of 2012. “No one really gave me a chance of playing Division I football,” King said. “Norfolk State was the only school to offer me a scholarship. That is why I wanted to graduate and become a Spartan for life. I did not want to just be remembered as someone who played here, but someone who graduated as well.”

King embodied the student-athlete mentality by working hard in and out of the classroom. On the gridiron, he played in 46 games during his four-year career and registered 372 tackles, including 185 of those unassisted. He sacked the quarterback 18 times in his career. A three-time All-MEAC selection, King became NSU’s first-ever consensus first-team Division I FCS All-American and winner of the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in the FCS. After his senior season in 2015, King realized that his life-long dream of playing in the National Football was a realistic possibility. He took the spring semester of his senior year off from school to focus on the upcoming draft.

However, as each round of the draft went by and his name was not called, the possibility of going undrafted began to sink in. Shortly after the draft concluded, King received a phone call from the Dallas Cowboys, who had flown him to Dallas for a visit just a month earlier. He signed with the Cowboys, but was released on Sept. 6 despite leading the team in tackles during the preseason. He was one of the final roster cuts before the team finalized their 53-man roster for the 2016 season.

“That was a tough month being at home,” King said. “Dad kept me focused and made sure I continued to work out.” On Oct. 4, he was signed to the San Diego Chargers practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster on Nov. 5 and played in his first two NFL games before being released nine days later. The very next day, the Indianapolis Colts claimed him off waivers, where he would finish out the season by playing in four games for the Colts. Through the ups and downs for King in his first season, he always had a former teammate to lean on in the form of Lynden Trail. A year earlier, Trail also went undrafted and signed as a free agent. After a couple of stints on the Washington Redskins practice squad, Trail saw his first career NFL regular-season action in 2016, just as King did. “Lynden is like a big brother to me,” King said. “If I am going through something, he is just a phone call away and I’m the same for him. When we need someone to talk to, we know we have each other.”

“My entire family is so proud,” King said. “I am the first to graduate from college, but I want to set the example for my sisters. My godmother told me to live out my dream, but when I had time I had to go back and finish my degree and that is what I did.” King was released from the Colts just days before graduation, but he is confident about his future. He hopes to know something soon, but no matter what happens or where he goes next, he will do it as a Spartan alumnus. “No one can tell me anything now,” King said. “I made it to the NFL and I am a graduate of Norfolk State, so no one can tell me I can’t do something.”

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