Mason King leaves Louisville with 9526 punting yards (ranking him 3rd all time at UofL) with an average of 42.5 yards per punt (Most in school history). But way before he was climbing up the record book at UofL, he was just a Louisville kid who grew up loving his hometown University.
His grandfather, Bob King, and uncle, Jerry King, played basketball for the Cards and are members of the UofL Athletic Hall of Fame. Both of his parents graduated from UofL as well – So Cardinal blood ran deep in his veins.
Mason attended St. Xavier High School where he played both wide receiver and punter for the Tigers. He was not offered a scholarship out of high school by UofL. He put together a highlight package and sent it to the coaching staff. Then he convinced the staff to give him a try out.
Mason walked-on in 2015 and was redshirted. In 2016 he set the school record for punting average in a season at 43.9 yards per punt. He earned and was rewarded a scholarship in 2017 at the end of spring practice.
Mason is a first class student athlete who will be deeply missed and we are very lucky as Card fans to have had him here for 5 years. He represented Louisville well and will continue to do so for the rest of his life.
* I just want all the readers to understand before you read this interview that I am a Trinity grad and a lot of my family graduated from St X. Mason is friends with some of my (ST. X) cousins so the joking about Trinity and St. X is all in fun.
Here is my interview with Mason King…
CSZ – Being from Louisville, how special was it to play and eventually earn a scholarship to your hometown school?
MK – It’s means a great deal to me and my family. Playing as a walk-on taught me that I could do anything I wanted, if I put in enough work. Earning that scholarship was a reward not only to me, but my parents as well. Being able to play for a school I grew up watching was awesome. I have a grandfather (Bob) and uncle (Jerry) both in the men’s basketball Hall of Fame at U of L. Louisville sports was something my family has been passionate about for many years.
CSZ – If playing for Louisville was that special to you then being named captain by your teammates must have been something that you probably couldn’t have ever dreamed of. Right?
MK – No doubt! I will never forget the time it was announced. I was on a knee in the huddle of the Cardinal Bird head in the middle of the field, listening to coach Petrino name the captains. When he called my name, I was lost for a moment and I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t stop smiling and was just so excited to be in that moment. It makes it even more special that the players voted for that.
CSZ – Tell me how Josh Appleby helped you during your redshirt year in 2015? Do you still stay in touch with him? And what role did David Akers play in your development as one of the best punters in U of L history?
MK – Initially, when I met Josh, I was very intimidated of the guy! He was a married man who could bench press over 415lbs, squat over 525 lbs. and he looked like a middle linebacker. After we got to know each other Josh said he “saw my potential with punting.” I was just a 170lb kid with barely any technique, but I liked to punt. Josh would spend many practices resting his legs and tossing me balls to punt, so I could work on my form. He really taught the fine details of being a Division 1 college punter and I desperately needed his guidance. I still talk to Josh a few times throughout the year. Anytime Louisville plays NC State (where Josh and his wife live) I will offer him tickets. When I was as a redshirt freshman, after the Music City Bowl in Nashville, I met David Akers. David is the one who has helped me the most with punting. David not only has given me hours of his time kicking balls and talking to me on the phone, but he has become a great friend of mine over the years. His advice has been so appreciated whether it is about life or the game of football and it can never be replaced. He is the kind of guy that told me to call if I ever needed help and I have done it many times over the last 4 years.
CSZ – Did you ever wish that you had tried to play wide receiver in college like you did in high school?
MK – I always thought I was a good receiver in high school, but I quickly realized that a “good high school receiver” is an average Division 1 receiver in college. The receivers and DB’s at the college level are incredibly fast and quick with their hands. After playing 4 years of wide receiver, as well as punting in high school it was nice to focus on one position.
CSZ – Being on campus for 5 years and being familiar with the program since you were a kid, from your perspective, what do you think happened to Bobby Petrino to let the program get to such a low level like it was in 2018?
MK – From my perspective, it didn’t happen overnight. The loss to Clemson in 2016, when we were ranked in the top 5, was a major turning point. Many players felt like the season was over and attitudes changed. We came back in 2017 and had a decent season, although it could have been better. Losing a player like Lamar Jackson from any team was something that played a big role by and not having his leadership or athletic ability greatly impacted the team.
CSZ – In your opinion, how lucky are the Louisville fans to have Scott Satterfield to lead the football program into the future?
MK – Having played a full season under coach Satt and his staff really taught me what playing for your teammates was all about. After a 2-10 season with not much hope in sight for my senior year, Coach Satt and his staff showed our team that we could believe in each other and we worked harder than we ever had before, especially the previous year. As a result of doing the right things on and off the field, we had an 8-5 season and won a Bowl game.
CSZ – No matter what NFL team you play for, will Louisville always be home?
MK – Everything I am training for right now is to just get a shot. I realize how difficult the next level is, however if I do make it to the NFL, Louisville will always be home to me.
CSZ – Did Vince ever joke around with you about attending the 2nd best high school in the state?
MK– Vince never joked about attending the second best high school in the state, probably because he knew I would mention that he is a graduate of the second-best college in the state!
CSZ – I was in Death Valley back in 2016 and your punts flipped the field so many times. I felt you really kept us in the game by averaging 48 yards per punt. Do you feel that was your best game or is there another game that you feel was your best?
MK – I think that was one of my best games on the biggest stage (College Gameday) college football has to offer. It was the loudest game I have ever played in. Setting a Bowl record against LSU was also a very memorable experience. Even though those were good games for me as a member on that team, we came up on the short end. I would prefer a win over me having a good game.
CSZ – Tell me about your experience at the Tropical Bowl with Khane (Pass) and Amonte(Caban).
MK – It was probably one of the most fun games I’ve played in. There was something cool about 80 plus players coming together and forming 2 teams. Representing U of L made the 3 of us very proud and we felt honored to be a part of a Senior Bowl. I felt like all three of us had great games. The game was a neat experience because it also gave me the opportunity to talk with NFL teams.
CSZ – Did you get any feedback from NFL scouts at the Tropical Bowl? What did they tell you?
MK– The Tropical Bowl allowed me to interview with 7 different teams. The scouts watched our 2 practices and some attended the game. As far as feedback, I spent about 30 min with each of the 7 teams going through questionnaires and learning about the next level. I felt like the 3 days went very well, and hopefully, the experience will result with additional contact in the near-future.
CSZ – Have you been in contact with newly committed Card, Ryan Harwell?
MK – Yes, I met Ryan when he made his visit to Louisville. He seemed like a nice kid and is excited to begin his time at UL.
CSZ – You were a part of the Cards FCA. Tell the fans what kind of an influence Chris Morgan had on you and all the student athletes at Louisville.
MK – FCA was an amazing resource to have on a college campus like Louisville. Chris Morgan is a great role model, leader and friend. Chris not only got my faith and walk with Christ back, but also helped me relate the Bible to modern day. He challenged me to deepen my faith and even baptized me last December. You can’t ask for a better friend than Chris. He’s a man that constantly gives and wants nothing in return.
CSZ – I would imagine you and Blanton got to be pretty close. How did you help him after he tore his ACL against Virginia?
MK – Blanton and I were roommates our freshman year of college, as well as at the hotels on the nights before games. He was one of my first friends when I got to the University. Over the last 5 years me and Creque have become best friends! We both really enjoy time on the lake and hitting the golf course, especially after the summer morning workouts with the team. While his injury is severe, I have no doubt he will be kicking balls again for a team soon. Before I could step in to help, Blanton had already accepted the reality and chugged on. My only help to him was being there when he needed me or when I could give him an occasional ride to the football stadium while he couldn’t drive. He is great and I am honored to be a groomsman in his wedding.
CSZ– Would you like to leave one last message to all of Cardnation?
MK– Thank You!! To all the fans that have come out and supported Louisville football over the past 5 years, I would want to convey to them my greatest appreciation for the amazing experience I had as a University of Louisville football player. Also, with this new coaching staff, I have no doubt that this program will rise to the kind of championship team that we have never seen, before. Louisville football allowed me to get a college degree, meet many new and amazing people/players and possibly allow me the opportunity to play in the NFL.
As Always, GO CARDS!