From birth, Haynes King has lived a life revolving around football. Growing up the son of a high-school football coach in Texas, King was a ballboy for the Longview High Lobos “as soon as he was old enough to protect himself on the sideline,” Haynes’ father John said.
As a young boy and later a star quarterback in Longview, an east Texas city of about 82,000 roughly 40 miles from the Louisiana border, he spent many an hour in the Lobo Den, the school’s fieldhouse.
“He’s just a guy that leads by example,” John King said of his son in a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Not a big rah-rah guy. Hard worker, great teammate. Enjoys the locker room, the coaches office. He just kind of grew up a coach’s kid and that’s what he likes to do. It doesn’t take much to make him happy. He’s just kind of one of the guys.”
That approach will surely find itself welcome within the confines of the Georgia Tech locker room. After three years at Texas A&M, King seeks a new start at Tech and a fair shot at playing time -- and has three remaining seasons of eligibility.
“That’s all he wants,” John King said. “He just wants a chance to win a job and play college football, be a starter.”
At Texas A&M, King was a heralded recruit – he was ranked the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 class by 247Sports Composite – who twice won the Aggies’ starting job (2021 and 2022) coming out of the preseason. He was recognized by the team with awards for his toughness, attitude and conditioning level and earned the praise of coach Jimbo Fisher. But on-field success was not to be his as an Aggie.
King broke his ankle in the second game of the 2021 season and didn’t play again the rest of the year. In 2022, he was demoted after Appalachian State upset then-No. 6 Texas A&M in the second game of the season. Due to injury and illness to other quarterbacks, he returned to start three more games. He nearly led the Aggies to an upset of Alabama. But he ultimately lost the job to freshman Conner Weigman.
For the season, he completed 104 of 187 passes (55.6%) for 1,220 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. He played through a case of turf toe and an injury to his throwing shoulder suffered in his second-to-last game. Both as a runner and passer, King (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) has obvious playmaking ability, but decision making at times has appeared to be a challenge.
Asked to summarize his son’s time at Texas A&M, John King termed it “Good, bad and ugly. Just like it was never meant to be.”
King went in the portal Dec. 2. Even before that happened, the first coach that his father reached out to was Tech quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke. King and Weinke developed a close relationship when Weinke recruited him to Tennessee out of high school, and Weinke was a major reason why the Volunteers were one of the two final schools in King’s recruitment. John King wanted to let Weinke know that King would be going in the portal, hoping that Weinke might have interest.
“I was fired up when he did,” John King said. “They had a chance to hook up again.”
As a transfer candidate, King took two visits, sandwiching visits to Arizona State and Tech around his graduation from Texas A&M. Besides Weinke, King liked coach Brent Key and his plan to build the program. He committed to Tech Dec. 18.
“You play musical chairs,” John King said. “The way the quarterback portal is, you’d better find you a seat.”
His shoulder healed, King has been taking part in throwing sessions and getting to know teammates. He’ll compete with returnees Zach Pyron and Zach Gibson for the starting job. It’s possible a fourth scholarship quarterback could arrive through the portal for added depth. Tech’s quarterback competition is unusual in that the three quarterbacks not only have multiple years of eligibility remaining, but also have started at the college level.
“He’s going to have to compete for the job,” John King said. “They’re going to play the best one. That’s all we needed to hear.”
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