Alex King

Senior punter Alex King (15) came to Texas after serving as the Duke Blue Devils' punter for the past four seasons. King also handled the quarterback duties for the Blue Devils' scout team, as well as playing the position in high school.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The depth chart experienced a huge change this week at quarterback, as Case McCoy assumes the starting role. However, that’s not even the most shocking transition, because a punter is now the third-string signal caller.

Alex King, Texas’ starting punter, will be tasked with the responsibility of learning a few select plays in the emergency that McCoy gets hurt and David Ash is unable to play due to a rib injury he sustained in last Thursday’s loss to TCU.

“He was out there throwing with the quarterbacks last night,” head coach Mack Brown said. “I told [co-offensive coordinator] Bryan [Harsin] to put him right in the middle of it because we have no guarantees.”

It may sound ridiculous to have a punter fill in quarterback, but King grew up playing the position in North Carolina, and was an all-state selection at Phillips Exeter Academy in New England during his post-graduate year. He also served as the emergency quarterback in his time at Duke. King transferred to Texas this season to pursure a graduate degree after spending his first four years with the Blue Devils.

“Alex is an athlete,” offensive guard Mason Walters said. “We have faith in him. I saw him throw the ball around a little bit yesterday, I was impressed.”

King received the backup nod over freshmen quarterbacks Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet. Brown doesn’t wish to burn their redshirt seasons by putting them for only a few plays in one game.

Both freshmen have yet to see a snap this season. If a situation forced either one of them to enter the game on Saturday, it would waste an entire year of eligibility.

“It’s one of those reasons I think we should have five years of eligibility,” Brown said. “I would love to bring one of those freshmen out to let them play. Still, you put them in for three plays against Kansas State and it costs them a year. I don’t think that’s fair.”

Brown also discussed the possibility of using one of the other many athletes on the roster that played quarterback in high school instead of King, such as safety Mykkele Thompson.

However, Brown doesn’t want to take away depth from other positions and also felt that King, a fifth-year senior, is more mentally prepared to handle the role.

“We’re in a position where none of them have played and none of them have taken any snaps,” Brown said. “We feel that Alex is smart. He’s mature. And he’s older. We’ll give him a limited package and not have to take someone out of position anywhere else.”

King’s package of plays will be limited. Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin taught him a few running plays at the beginning of the season, and now his role will expand to encompass a few pass plays. But the playbook will be simple.

This isn’t the first time a non-quarterback has prepared in a backup role for Texas. In 2006, when Colt McCoy was injured and then-backup Jevan Sneed decided to transfer, wide receiver Quan Cosby prepared to take snaps if necessary. He learned five plays, but never had to enter a game.

The coaching staff hopes it’s the same case with King. But they know one thing. He’d be the best quick-kick quarterback they’ve ever had.

“We actually used him last night, Harsin said. “He took a couple shots down the field. He dropped back seven steps, punted it, right on the money. Hit a spiral.”

Despite a promising start to the season, sophomore running back Malcolm Brown (28) has failed to make an impact in a majority of the Longhorns' games. In order for Texas to reach its full potential running the ball, brown must get more involved in the Texas offensive game plan. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

The man behind center is always going to be the one under the most scrutiny, the one who gets the most credit for wins and the most blame for losses.

But it doesn’t matter if David Ash, Case McCoy or Alex King is taking the snaps for the Longhorns if they can’t figure how to run the ball. Here’s a suggestion: get Malcolm Brown more touches.

Johnathan Gray has been great in spurts, Joe Bergeron has proven to be effective in short-yardage situations and Daje Johnson is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. But the missing piece to Texas’ offense is an every-down tailback that can move the chains on 3rd-and-1 one play and reel off a 30-yard touchdown run on the next.

So why did Malcolm Brown’s sure hands not touch the ball once in the Longhorns’ loss to TCU last week?

“We’ve got to get Malcolm Back in the mix,” co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “It’s nothing against Malcolm, it’s just getting him back in there. Johnathan and Joe continue to play at a high level. They’re doing a nice job. But you don’t want to spread it too think to where no one gets enough reps in the game and no one gets into a rhythm.”

Brown, who missed five games with a left ankle injury, has gotten 10 carries in two games this year, the victories over Wyoming and Ole Miss. He rushed for 100 yards and at least one touchdown in each of those contests. If there’s anyone that Harsin should be worried about getting in a rhythm, it should be Brown.

“We didn’t run it much the other night,” head coach Mack Brown said of Texas’ 20-13 loss to TCU this Thanksgiving. “It wasn’t a running game night. I wish it would have been. But when you’re not balanced against a running defense that’s holding people to 98 yards and you can’t throw it — we were inept throwing it, we dropped about five or six passes — so it took away our ability to run it late.”

Texas’ quarterback situation is a dire one. The fact that senior punter Alex King could serve as the team’s backup quarterback if David Ash, who is listed as questionable with a rib injury, doesn’t play says it all.
Ash committed three turnovers in the first half against TCU while McCoy tossed an interception that sealed the Horned Frogs’ victory in the disappointing loss on Thanksgiving. Texas averaged a season-low 2.6 yards per carry in the defeat, a number that has to improve in its regular season finale if it wants to upset Kansas State.

“You have to be able to run the ball against any team, especially against good teams,” junior guard Mason Walters said. “If you can do that, it gives you a chance to win the game. It takes them out of their offense and Kansas State has a really good offense. Being able to stay on the field, being able to run the ball are going to be key things.”

Harsin and Brown can talk all they want about why Malcolm Brown didn’t get the ball much against TCU and why he needs to get it more against Kansas State. But they’re the ones making decisions on game day.

So decide to get Malcolm Brown the ball.

Alex King’s father introduced him to the world of athletics. He went into college football following in the footsteps of his father, and he continues his legacy with his play.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Alex King was finished with football.

The punter, who grew up tossing the ball around with his dad, felt lost and ready to move on to something different.

“At the end of the season I was totally exhausted emotionally and just needed some time,” Alex King said. “I just wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do.”

He was emotionally drained after the toughest three-month stretch of his life. His dad, Dr. Michael King, died by suicide Oct. 7, 2011. With a year of eligibility remaining after the season, Alex felt compelled to take a different path.

History degree in hand, he spent a day with an investment finance company in New York.

In New York, something clicked. The business world wasn’t for him: he belonged on a football field.


Alex King was born and bred a football player. His dad played quarterback at Hampden-Sydney College and his uncles, John Mack and Geoff King, played at Duke and North Carolina, respectively.

Dr. King spent hours teaching Alex the nuances of the quarterback position, refined his punting abilities and even showed him a few things on the basketball court.

“My dad definitely put a lot of pressure on Alex to succeed and be the best from a very young age,” Alex’s oldest sister, Katie, said. She describes her brother’s athletic accomplishments as “ridiculous.”

But Alex thrived on it. He dropped bucket after bucket on the hardwood, and filled up box scores during his time in high school. Alex walked on at Duke, the school Mack, sister Katie and brother Michael King attended.

Alex took the starting punter spot from Kevin Jones as a junior in 2010 and never gave it up. He solidified his role there and for a year, life was great. 
Until that fateful day.


Dr. King’s family knew he wasn’t well. It was just a part of the family dynamic growing up. But they loved him all the same.

Dr. King was an orthopedic surgeon who dedicated his life to helping people. He was active in the Winston-Salem community in North Carolina and volunteered as the on-call doctor at local high school football games. He stood on the sidelines every Friday for years, ready to assist young athletes, observing the game he loved and aiding the community that represented a huge piece of his life.

The King children, Alex and his three siblings — Katie, Michael and Marylynn — remember their childhood home as a walk-in infirmary for local high school athletes. Kids filed in and out on the weekends for free care at the gentle hands of Dr. King.

“Dad did everything on the kitchen counter,” Katie said. “Dad would look at arms, shoulders and legs. He applied braces, bandages and splints, everything short of an X-ray. He would just put on splint on and say, ‘Come see me at the office on Monday.’”

Under the surface, Dr. King struggled. He battled depression and rheumatoid arthritis. Despite the family’s best efforts to lift his spirits, he felt he’d been stripped of a happiness that would never return.

“He couldn’t work anymore,” Alex King said. “He was an orthopedic surgeon, and his work was everything. Helping people was his whole life. His job was everything to him. I think he just kind of felt like he didn’t have much else to give.”

On the Friday morning of Duke’s bye week, Dr. King died by suicide. The act was planned, the notes left behind attested to that. But it was a raw moment for the family Dr. King left behind.

“We were disappointed and kind of shocked he went through with it,” Katie said. “But not all that surprised because he hadn’t been that well.”


The period from that Friday to the next Saturday — the day of Alex’s first game since his dad’s death — was one of the toughest stretches of Alex’s life.

Four days after Dr. Kings’ death, more than 1,200 people gathered for his funeral, including Duke’s entire coaching staff and many of Alex’s teammates.

Alex was ready to attend, but he didn’t have a pair of dress shoes. Katie said Alex was often at a loss to find attire for formal occasions. Since he and his dad wore the same size, Alex would often sneak into his dad’s closet and borrow clothes. He did so one last time on this occasion. 

Alex strode onto the stage wearing a pair of his dad’s dress shoes and talked about wanting to be as good a father as his dad was someday.

Alex said, “Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.” But then he paused, glancing down at his borrowed pair of shoes, and in a completely off-the-cuff line said, “I’m actually wearing his shoes right now and they fit pretty well.”

That line set off a rumble of laughter and thousands of tears.

But only eight days later Alex returned to the field, this time in a pair of shoes all his own.


Duke faced Florida State the week following Dr. King’s death, and Alex decided to take the field to play in memory of his father. With a heavy heart, Alex delivered the best performance of his career.

On five punts Alex averaged a massive 53.1 average, delivered a 60-yarder and knocked a punt inside the Florida State 20-yard line. It was a showing that Duke’s current punter, Will Monday, called “one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen at our position.”

The Blue Devils lost that day, but Alex was given the game ball in an emotional postgame scene.

In a fashion typical of Alex’s humble and quiet demeanor, he didn’t draw attention to himself during the game. He stepped onto the field and honored his dad the best way possible — with his leg and an unwavering eye toward the sky.

“Ever since it happened I’ve been playing in his memory, and I think about him all the time,” Alex King said. “I tell him I love him all the time.”

Alex’s entire family attended the game in Durham, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the section of the stands that housed the players’ families. But Katie said friends always paused in their shared moment of grief to commend Alex’s maturity.

“It might make some people sad and weep and think, ‘Why me?’” Katie said. “Not Alex. It just makes him stronger.”


Alex played in his father’s memory the rest of the season and was named a second-team All-ACC punter. Despite the success, King was hesitant to continue. But the more he thought about it, the less he wanted to walk away from the game. Alex loved football and longed to pay homage to his father’s memory.

“He taught me so much,” King said. “And I couldn’t think of a better way to honor him than to keep playing.”

But he’d have to find a new place to punt. He was welcome back at Duke, but there wasn’t a scholarship available for him. Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe decided to move forward with Monday at punter.

So Alex and Katie sat on Katie’s couch and made a list of every school in the country that had a need for a punter, with Texas at the top of the list.

Alex went out for the Longhorns’ spring game and once he saw Austin, that was it. Texas was where he wanted to be.

“It was the only school I visited, and the only coaches I talked to,” Alex King said.

Now Alex lines up in front of 100,000 fans at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and punts each day in his dad’s honor. It’s quite a different atmosphere from Duke, but fitting considering his dad’s obsession with cowboys. Dr. King had cowboy paintings, sculptures and a huge cowboy belt buckle, and if he saw Alex punting in Texas he’d be thrilled. Actually, he’d probably be doing his patented laugh and clap — a move he reserved for his kids when they accomplished something he was especially proud of.

“We’ve talked often that if Dad could see Alex now, he’d be doing his laugh and clap,” Katie said. “He’d be so proud and so blown away to see how much he accomplished.”

Printed on Friday, November 16, 2012 as: Punter picks up pieces 

Jordan went 1-for-3 against Wyoming and a missed extra point.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Like their offensive and defensive counterparts, the Longhorns’ special teams had moments of brilliance in their season opener while leaving much to be desired.

In his first career start as defensive tackle, Chris Whaley blocked an extra point. In his first career game with Texas, Alex King booted all three of his punts more than 45 yards, one of which was downed inside the Wyoming Cowboys’ five-yard line.

Head coach Mack Brown called his team’s kickoff coverage “the best we’ve had” but also pointed out, like most observers, the glaring need for improvement from his kicker. With Justin Tucker kicking for the Ravens and Penn State transfer Anthony Fera out with a groin injury, true freshman Nick Jordan took over the place-kicking duties.

But the Coppell product missed two of his three field goal attempts, hitting a 31-yarder but missing a 46-yarder wide left in the second quarter and coming up short on a 44-yard try in the fourth, when he also had an extra point blocked after Texas’ final score of the night.

In one game, Jordan missed as many field goal attempts from 40 and 49 yards as Tucker did each of the last two years when he went 9-for-11 from that range. Hunter Lawrence hit 10 of 11 such kicks in 2009, including a 46-yarder as time expired against Nebraska in the Big 12 title game that sent the Longhorns to a national title game.

“I thought the first one was a really good kick,” Brown said. “It just went left. Then he makes a great kick but then on the last one, I thought it was a low snap. He grabbed it and tried to get it back, but he jerked it.”

It won’t matter against Wyoming, but the sooner the Longhorns can get a more reliable kicker on the field — such as Fera, who will also miss Saturday’s game against New Mexico — the better. For now, walk-on freshman Nick Rose, who handled the kickoff duties last week, will compete with Jordan for the place-kicking responsibilities.

“Since Anthony got hurt, they’ve been competing for it,” Brown said. “I’m really pleased with Nick Rose. I think he can be a weapon for us. We just need to figure out how to use him.”

Rose’s performance was also a bright spot on special teams for Texas. He sent three of seven kickoffs for touchbacks while Wyoming was stopped inside the 20-yard line on each of the other four, thanks to tackles by Sheroid Evans, Josh Turner, Dalton Santos and Tevin Jackson.

King’s punting (boots of 46, 58 and 56 yards) and Whaley blocking the extra point following an 82-yard touchdown pass by Brett Smith were also impressive special teams moments. Texas went on to score 24 unanswered points after Whaley’s big play.

“Obviously, the 11 guys that were on the field at that point were all just heartbroken,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “But to come back and block the ensuing point attempt, you could see a bunch of guys not feeling sorry for themselves and not really focusing on that play. But for us to block that PAT I think really speaks to the spirit that this team has.”

Thanks to guys like Whaley, King and Rose, all that stands between Texas and an elite special teams unit is a healthy Fera. Until then, the Longhorns will be sending an inexperienced and likely unreliable kicker onto the field.

Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: Kicking must improve