Justin King transferring from Tennessee to UTC

Justin King transferring from Tennessee to UTC

March 22nd, 2015 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

Tennessee Volunteers fullback Justin King (38) runs for yardage during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Akron and Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Knoxville.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Justin King thought that being a versatile football player coming out of high school would only help him when he signed with Tennessee in 2012.

That wasn't the case, however. Because of his versatility, he never quite found a niche at the Southeastern Conference program. So he looked for a new home for a new start as a player.

UT-Chattanooga provided that.

The former-three star out of Dunwoody, Ga., signed scholarship papers Saturday to transfer to UTC. He will graduate from the Knoxville school in May with a degree in sociology and will have two seasons remaining starting this year.

King will rejoin Drae Bowles, another former Vol, in Chattanooga.

"This is a great decision for me," King said Saturday. "I'll give myself an opportunity to play here. I had a great relationship with the coaches, and this gives me a fair shot again. I didn't want to stay at Tennessee and wonder years down the road what could have happened if I had left. I don't want that in the back of my head."

He played fullback and as a wildcat quarterback as a freshman and then, after a redshirt season in 2013, moved to linebacker last season, appearing in all 13 games for the Vols and registering two tackles.

"At first I thought it was good (to be versatile)," King said. "The problem is that you don't find a home. It has its pros and cons, but I just want to play wherever I feel comfortable at and do whatever it takes to help the team win.

"I just want to enjoy my last two years playing ball and hopefully further my career (beyond college)."

The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder watched Saturday morning's UTC practice and was impressed by how much teaching was going on. The Mocs coaches were continually encouraging and instructing through the two-plus-hour session.

He said former Central High School standout Nikolay Timoshchuk, who spent two seasons as a walk-on at Tennessee, played a big role in convincing him to come to UTC.

"I wanted to give myself a fair chance and an opportunity to play," King said. "Chattanooga is a great town, and I'll still be in Tennessee. I have a lot of friends in Knoxville and won't be too far away from them, but I'll be closer to home and my parents will have more opportunities to come see me play."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.