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Hawks Wilcox, King take next step as they sign with new colleges

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Wed. March 23, 2011 | Joey Knight | Email

Hawks Wilcox, King take next step as they sign with new colleges

SEFFNER — The most belated signing ceremony over which Armwood football coach Sean Callahan has presided may also have been his most gratifying.

At dusk Tuesday, nearly seven weeks after national signing day, Hawks fullback Kyle Wilcox and receiver A.J. King formally righted what Callahan deemed two egregious wrongs.

Bedecked in shirts and ties, Wilcox and King — both spurned at the eleventh hour by the schools to which they had initially committed — signed with Penn and Western Michigan, respectively.

“Both of these guys are going to be true success stories,” Callahan told a small gathering of relatives, coaches, reporters and teammates. “Because they both handled adversity like true athletes do.”

Which isn’t to say it was easy.

Wilcox, Armwood’s valedictorian who spent part of his childhood in foster care before his 20-year-old brother assumed legal guardianship, initially was set to attend Princeton.

Two nights before signing day, however, a Tigers coach called Wilcox at home to tell him he had been rejected by the Ivy League school’s admissions office. Callahan was livid; Wilcox’s response: “Coach Cal, relax, it’s all going to work out.”

On Tuesday, Callahan announced Wilcox — who owns a 6.46 GPA — had qualified for more than the $52,000 annual cost to attend Princeton.

By contrast, Callahan couldn’t put a price tag on the smile King brandished Tuesday.

Shortly after tearing his left ACL in a preseason game against Middleton, King (29 catches, 499 yards in 2009) committed to Purdue, which had been courting him for some time.

He played in one regular-season game and had surgery, in which a cadaver’s ligament was used to repair the injury, on Oct. 25. More than a month later, King’s parents said, they joined their son on his visit to Purdue, where they say they were reassured by coach Danny Hope.

“Basically when we were in his office we asked him, ‘Is everything still okay?’ ” Sharon King recalled. “He said, ‘Yeah, sure, we can’t wait to get him up here. Everything’s a go, no problem.’ ”

Neither King nor his parents have spoken to Hope since. Through a Boilermakers offensive line coach, they heard in January that the Purdue staff questioned the nature of King’s surgery and had withdrawn the scholarship offer.

King was so distraught he skipped the Feb. 2 signing day ceremony, during which four teammates signed with colleges. “I couldn’t do it,” he said.

Tuesday, three of them were there to watch King sign with Western Michigan, which entered his recruiting picture a little more than a month ago. Callahan said King’s knee rehab is on track.

“It’s a great day,” King said. “I feel relief, joy. I’ve just got to be hungry when I get up there.”

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