When you work hard all summer preparing for your senior year, every game is important because it signifies the last time you will face those teams on your schedule. Different games are circled on player’s personal calendars for various reasons but the Texas and Oklahoma State game seemed to have the consensus red circle among all the players. For David King, he circled it after last year’s loss in Stillwater in which his Oklahoma team didn’t play very well. Saturday was going to be a special day for him all the way around as it was Senior Day, the last home game in front of all his fans, and it was Bedlam.
OU Defensive End David King
King was told on Friday at the team meetings in front of the entire team that he would be the recipient of the Don Key Award which is presented annually to the player that best exemplifies the many qualities that Don Key possessed while playing for the Sooners before cancer ended his football career in 1981. It’s the only individual award presented in Oklahoma Football and was established by Barry Switzer in 1982. Needless to say, King was excited to be looked upon with such an honor but knew that the Cowboys were lurking in the background. In one of the most intense and tear-jerking interviews that this reporter has ever done, David King stopped by to shed some light on his life as a person and as an Oklahoma Sooner.
“It was a huge honor to be named the Don Key Award winner and I was told on Friday in front of the team and since the coaches pick the award winner, it was flattering for me to receive that,” said King. “Obviously I am doing something right around here and I got to go out on the field and meet Don Key and he is a great guy and it is an honor to be able to have my picture up on the wall with all the other winners.”
King says that every year he has been here that the Don Key award has been shared by more than one player and that with him being the only recipient this year, it made it that much more special.
“Yea, every year that I have been here, more than one player has won it and I guess me winning it by myself is special but I would have gladly shared it with any other senior on my team,” said King.
After receiving the award at midfield, King felt a sense of emotion rush over him as he looked around and didn’t see the one person that he would have given it all up for to have them standing there beside him. With his eyes starting well up with emotion, King said that it was very hard for him to keep his composure with the thoughts that he had going through his head.
“The most difficult thing for me was the passing of my mom (Gladys King) in 2010,” said King. “After we won the Sun Bowl, I got the phone call that no one wants to ever get and my life just completely changed from then on. My mom was a single parent and after I lost her, I had to lean on other people. Fortunately, I have a great immediate family and outside family that also takes good care of me but the hardest part for me is that I still look through my phone and see my momma’s phone number and you know that you can’t call it and you don’t have that person that gave birth to you to just talk to you and tell them what is going on in your life. My family and friends as well as my teammates have done a great job of trying to fill the void but no one really can take the place of your mother.
“When something like that happens, it forces you to grow up real quick and it made me become a man and I wish it on no one but if someone does have the unfortunate instance of that happening, it makes you put things in perspective. It’s just the little things that you can’t imagine unless you go through it, how much paperwork you have to fill out when someone dies and thankfully my friends and family helped me out and I will be forever thankful to them.”
King had his longtime supporters and “family” on the field with him on Saturday for the Don Key presentation and the announcement of all the seniors.
“I had the McVain family out there with me Saturday,” said King. “I moved in with them after my mom passed because I didn’t have a house to go back to and I didn’t want to live in a house by myself so they have been good friends of mine all throughout high school and they have been real supportive of my career both in high school and while I have been here at Oklahoma.”
Although King had “family” with him, he says that there is no substitute for having his mother standing beside him to see his joy as he accepted the award and as he was announced with the rest of his senior class.
“Saturday was hard not having my mom out there on the field but I know that she was looking down on me and that she is proud of the man that I have become today. I was in tears before the game and it was hard to see all the other seniors out there with their parents. They had their mother and their dad with them and I just knew that my momma couldn’t be out there with me so it was tough.”
King said that a big part of his support group were the seniors that he came in with in 2008.
“Man, they are a great group of guys and we came in together in 2008 and we have had a lot of ups and downs and a lot of yelling and workouts together. We had a meeting at the hotel like we always do on Friday night and I just kind of pulled all of the seniors back and told them that it was the last time that we were ever going to come to this hotel together, the last time that we are going to walk down that ramp together and to just think about everything that we have done while we have been here. There have been times that everybody in that locker room has wanted to quit and I just told them to think about what we have fought through and battled together through and all the sweat we have poured in together and all the meetings that we have been through and practice reps. I told them to bundle all that up and put it all on the field tomorrow (Saturday against OSU) and whatever their role is on the team, to do it 100%.”
King said that he couldn’t have envisioned going out any better except maybe for one thing.
“Well we could have shut them out, said King!” That was probably one of the best stadium atmospheres that I have ever been in because we went around and was shaking everyone’s had and then they played “Jump Around” and everybody just got loud and celebrated. It was truly bittersweet.
King says that he will be back on the field this Saturday at TCU and is looking forward to playing in his final game of the regular season. He is hoping that his tweaked ankle will hold up and allow him to play the entire game but as far as to how he injured it, King didn’t want to discuss it.
“I really don’t want to talk about it but it was nothing major, I just tweaked it and I tried to go out and play and I just wasn’t able to,” said King. “That was the hardest part, being that it was the last home game and watching my teammates out there getting the win, it kind of brought me to tears at the end. I tried to play, I was out there for about 20 plays but my ankle just wasn’t holding up so I had to come out.”
King and the rest of the Sooners will be looking to stake their claim on a BCS bowl by beating the Horned Frogs and earning at least a share of the Big XII Title at 11:00 am Saturday morning in Fort Worth.