CUMBERLAND — Fort Hill High School place-kicker/punter Danny King has committed to West Virginia University football as a preferred walk-on (PWO) for the Mountaineers’ recruiting class of 2020.
King, who will be a senior in the fall for the defending Maryland 1A state champion Sentinels, announced his commitment Saturday on Twitter:
“I’d like to thank God for all the blessings He has provided me throughout my life. I’d also like to thank my family for always supporting me and pushing me to be the man I am today. I would also like to thank my coaches, teammates and the Fort Hill community for all of the support you guys have given over these past years.
“Thank you Brandon Kornblue and Desi Cullen (Kornblue Kicking) for helping over the past couple years. I would also like to thank (WVU head coach Neal) Brown, (special teams coordinator; inside linebackers Blake) Seiler, (special teams coach Tyler) Hancock, (special teams coach Michael) Molinari and the rest of the West Virginia coaching staff for giving me this opportunity.
“That being said, I am 100% committed to West Virginia University. Country Roads, Take Me Home!”
King is rated by Kornblue Kicking Camp as the No. 3 senior-to-be kicker nationally and the 10th best punter. Kornblue lists him as a five-star place-kicking prospect and a four-star punting prospect.
King attended Neal Brown’s specialist camp last week and then returned to WVU with his Fort Hill teammates to participate in the Mountaineers’ seven-on-seven camp this weekend.
It was then that West Virginia’s coaches offered him a PWO spot in the class of 2020.
“I was speechless,” King told BlueGoldNews.com. “I went and talked it over with my parents, and decided to go ahead and commit. It’s an incredible opportunity. I had originally been planning to look around a little more and commit later, but this was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down.”
King, who holds a 4.15 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society, also plays baseball for the Sentinels, and is also a quarterback and safety.
“I’ll do whatever they ask me to do,” King told BlueGoldNews.com. “If they want me to kick, that’s fine. If they want me to punt, that’s fine, too. And if they want me to do both, I’m OK with anything. I’ll do whatever they ask.”
The first-team All-Area place-kicker last season, King handled the punting, the kickoffs and the field goals for the Sentinels, averaging 40 yards a punt with 12 inside the 20, and delivered 86 touchbacks and 89 kicks inside the 20 on his 91 kickoffs.
As the placement kicker, King was was 53 for 54 on extra points and 10 for 11 on field goals, with his long being 54 yards. King booted three field goals, including a school-record 54-yarder, to help Fort Hill to a 16-9 victory at Southern in the fifth game of the season. His 83 points scored was second on the team.
He was also first-team All-Area as a sophomore, averaging 38 yards a punt, and delivering 49 touchbacks and 69 kicks inside the 20 on his 96 kickoffs.
As the field goal kicker, King was 5 for 6, with his long being 47 yards. His most memorable kick was from 24 yards and came on the final play of the game to lift Fort Hill to a win over Melbourne Central Catholic of Florida.
The current WVU place-kicker is redshirt junior Evan Staley, former Times-News All-Area first-teamer. A graduate of Hampshire High School, Staley was Academic All-Big 12 first team last year for WVU and has played in 25 career games for the Mountaineers.
Staley was 16 for 20 on field goals last season, 59 for 60 in PAT’s and led the team in scoring with 107 points. He averaged 56.6 yards per kick and had 24 touchbacks last season and ranked No. 2 in Big 12 overall scoring, No. 2 in Big 12 scoring by kickers and No. 25 nationally in scoring.
He had a career-best 4-for-4 performance against Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl and set the game records for most field goals in a game (4) and longest field goal (49 yards).
He was the recipient of the Tommy Nickolich Award as WVU’s top walk-on before earning a scholarship in the spring of 2018.
At Hampshire High School, Staley made seven field goals, including a season-long 54 yarder, and averaged 42.5 yards per punt as a senior. He won the Fulton Walker Award as the top special teams player in the state and was a two-time all-state, selection, including first team as a senior
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeCTN.