Highlands grad takes on another field of play
Sophomore Reuben King assures his friends and teammates this is no goof.
He has every intention of making the Westminster College football team, catching passes from quarterback Shawn Lehocky and contributing to morale in the locker room.
“Some people might think I’m a joke,” King said. “But I am out to prove them wrong. I want to learn.”
King, a Highlands graduate who hasn’t played organized football since the eighth grade, will give the sport another try during his basketball offseason.
King (6-foot-1, 165 pounds) was recruited to play basketball after a quality high school career at Highlands, where he was a role-playing swingman with defensive prowess and vocal leadership qualities.
Now, morphing into a football player is a challenge King can’t wait to tackle.
“I figure I want to give it a shot now, rather than regretting it in 20 years,” King said. “I have aspirations to contribute now. I believe I can do this.”
King played in the Highland Hornets youth organization for two years, then played on the eighth grade team before moving to Kansas for a year due to family reasons.
Former Highlands quarterback Jeff Sinclair, a basketball teammate of King’s at Highlands, expects his friend to take well to the gridiron.
“I was pumped (to hear the news),” said Sinclair, who plays quarterback at Robert Morris. “He could play there; he is an athlete. We tried to get him to come out in high school but he wouldn’t.”
King said he never gave football a serious thought until Lehocky began recruiting him during some pick-up flag football.
“He said, ‘We need receivers,’ ” King said. “He said, ‘I like the way you guys play.’ It was always in the back of my mind. I had to ask myself, ‘Do I seriously want to do this?’ ”
Lehocky, a Freedom graduate, thinks King will help the shortage at wideout.
“I watched him on the court in basketball,” Lehocky said. “He is real athletic. I kept bugging him to come out for the team because I think he can help us.”
One of Westminster’s top receivers did a King reverse, choosing to play basketball in the winter.
Jon Gubish (Northgate), a 6-0 guard, played football the past two years.
“I think if Reuben plays like we think he can,” Lehocky said, “he can make a lot of people miss. I look forward to throwing him some bombs.”
Lehocky said there is no unwritten agreement that he’ll have to suit up for the basketball team.
“Nah, they don’t want to see me play basketball,” he said.
King averaged 4.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in 23 games last season for the Titans’ basketball team. He made 11 starts and had 27 assists and 21 steals, but averaged only 16.2 minutes a game.
King participated in spring practice and his enthusiasm didn’t waver.
“I am used to running a lot with basketball,” he said. “I just have to get used to things and get in football shape.”
Now, he’s mentally preparing for the rigors of summer training camp.
“I know it’s going to be tough,” King said. “I know it’s not going to be a cake walk. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.”
King also believes he’ll be able to handle a full class schedule while juggling two sports.
He majors in history with a minor in secondary education.
King isn’t alone in his venture. He is one of three Westminster athletes who already have a signature sports but will add football to their schedules.
Senior Mike Williams, a Union graduate, played center field for the baseball team. Sophomore Adam Carswell, who is 6-5, played basketball and also participated in track and field.
All three players plan to be listed as wide receivers.
Westminster has had only seven losing seasons in football in 59 years.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review local sports editor. You can contact Bill at 724-224-2696, email@example.com or via Twitter .