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PENN STATE Williams, King key to future



Published: Thu, February 3, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



By signing with Penn State, they drew other top players to the Nittany Lions.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State's two biggest threats in 2005 have yet to play a down for the Nittany Lions.

They have yet to even put on their uniforms.

Derrick Williams, rated the nation's No. 1 recruit by Rivals.com, and Justin King, ranked No. 19, headlined a class of 19 athletes who signed letters of intent Wednesday to play football for the Nittany Lions.

And while many are touting their speed -- both have been timed under 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash -- some recruiting experts are extolling their abilities in attracting other players.

"When we talk to kids like Jerome Hayes, the All-American linebacker who committed to Penn State today, they said the real reason they're coming to Penn State is the effort of King and Williams," said Phil Grosz, editor of the G & amp;W Recruiting Report and publisher of the Penn State fan newspaper Blue-White Illustrated.

"They're important on the football field because they're skill players at positions where Penn State needs talent, but they became recruiters when they came here."

Ready to practice

Williams, a 6-foot, 189-pound athlete from Greenbelt, Md., and King, a defensive back from Pittsburgh, both made verbal commitments to Penn State in December and enrolled at the school in January, meaning they will be able to participate in spring football practice.

Francis Claude, a tight end from Champlain School in Vancouver, Quebec, also enrolled early.

Williams' and King's commitments to play for coach Joe Paterno were widely regarded as a turning point in the Penn State recruiting class.

And though the Lions receivers struggled last year -- no wideout had more than 20 receptions or 254 yards -- Grosz said the impact of this class will be felt immediately on special teams.

"In 22 years covering Penn State football, I've never seen this type of speed," Grosz said. "This is the type of speed that you think of at Miami, Florida State, Oklahoma."

Hayes, a linebacker from Bayonne, N.J., High School, should figure into the special teams mix and was a signing-day decision for Penn State. His coach, Rich Rodriguez, said the Lions had always been a favorite for the 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect, but they lost some favor when Fran Ganter moved from assistant head coach into the athletic department office.




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