King tackles receiver, finds Seahawks on line

Ex-Chesapeake player is draft's 22nd selection

April 18, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Lamar King spent most of yesterday sitting around his home in Essex with about 40 friends and family members. He didn't know if his phone would ring on the first day of the NFL draft, but the call came late in the afternoon from the Seattle Seahawks.

By last night, King was partying at a club, celebrating the good news. This morning, he likely will be on a plane to Seattle.

King, 6 feet 4 and 290 pounds, was the Seahawks' first-round pick yesterday, the 22nd player King taken in the draft. He was the second defensive end selected in the first round, two spots behind North Carolina's Ebenezer Ekuban, who was selected by the Dallas Cowboys. The consensus was that King would be a second- to third-round pick.

"Right now, I'm pretty speechless," said King, who graduated from Chesapeake High in Baltimore County. "I kept hearing I would go in the second round, but I thought maybe I could slip into the first round. Actually, I would have been just as happy to go in the third or fourth just as long as I was given an opportunity to play."

King admitted the pressure was starting to get to him.

"I started out having a nothing day, just kind of chilling around the house," he said. "I watched a little TV, but I was starting to go a little crazy."

King visited a number of teams weeks before the draft, including the Ravens, Tennessee, Kansas City, Atlanta, Dallas and Jacksonville. Most of the teams were concerned about him because he went to Saginaw Valley State, a Division II school in Michigan.

"You have a big, strong man, a defensive lineman who moves very well for a man his size, who is very athletic," said Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, who coached the Green Bay Packers last season.

"On our football team right now, we felt he was the best athlete available.

"This allows Fritz Shurmur [defensive coordinator] to move guys in and out, keep guys fresh on defense. He is a very special athlete."

Holmgren compared King to Green Bay's Vonnie Holliday, a rookie defensive tackle last year.

"He was on the all-rookie team, challenging for Rookie of the Year," Holmgren said. "Lamar is bright-eyed, enthusiastic, willing to do whatever you want. We drew a comparison there. But I don't want to say they are the same player. They come from different programs. But the size, speed, movement and personality, all the little things remind me of him."

King had 84 tackles last season including 12 sacks and 13 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He dominated in Division II, but now has to step up.

"I look forward to the challenge," King said.

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