Karrington King’s career with the Charlotte 49ers is over and it serves as a reminder that there can be more important things than win-loss records in college football.
King, a senior linebacker who is the winless 49ers’ career tackling leader, dislocated his right knee in Charlotte’s 45-14 loss Saturday against Western Kentucky. Coach Brad Lambert said Tuesday that King would miss the rest of the season, meaning his career at Charlotte is also finished.
King in many ways embodies the 49ers’ still-developing program, which is in its fifth year of existence and already playing on the Football Bowl Subdivision level: He’s a player who came out of high school (Charlotte Catholic) as a walk-on, but earned a scholarship to become a mainstay on a team that is usually over-matched by well-established teams.
“He’s just about everything you want in a student-athlete,” Lambert said, adding that King is on schedule to graduate with a degree in management information systems. “He’s always done a great job of leading our guys, on and off the field. It’s a story you always want to push out front.
“He’s done everything the right way and earned everything he’s gotten.”
King had several college offers coming out of Catholic in 2013, but elected to walk on at Charlotte.
“My friends and family, all the people I know, are able to come and see me play,” he told the Observer earlier this season. “I get to stay in my hometown and play football for a great program like this. I’m truly feel blessed.”
King will finish his career with 260 tackles, best in program history. But he’ll leave another legacy.
“He’s still going to be around,” said punter Arthur Hart. “He’s not just a player for us on the field. We can still draw from his motivation and keep going forward.”
The 49ers (0-7, 0-3 Conference USA), who were without several starters against Western Kentucky, will have most of them back against Ala.-Birmingham (4-2, 2-1) this Saturday at Richardson Stadium.
Quarterback Hasaan Klugh (illness) and tailback Benny LeMay (concussion) should play, Lambert said. Also, offensive lineman Chris Brown, receiver Workpeh Kofa and defensive back Ed Rolle are expected back.
Lambert said sophomore Anthony Butler will step in for King.
The Blazers resurrected their program this season after it was shut down for two years, when school officials said football wasn’t financially sustainable. But a fierce public backlash against the decision (as well as $27 million public fundraising drive) brought the program back.
The Blazers, who have several transfers from junior colleges and four-year programs on their roster, have 15 players who were on the 2014 team. They’ve won two consecutive close C-USA games, 23-22 against Louisiana Tech and 25-23 against Middle Tennessee.
UAB is led offensively by quarterback A.J. Erdely, a transfer from Middle Tennessee who has thrown for 1,105 yards and seven touchdowns, and freshman running back Spencer Brown (629 yards, six touchdowns). Linebacker Shaq Jones, a holdover from the 2014 team, leads a defense that is 18th nationally in tackles for loss (7.7 per game).
▪ The 89-yard touchdown run by backup tailback Aaron McAllister and 77-yard run by quarterback Brooks Barden against Western Kentucky are the two longest runs from scrimmage in 49ers history.
▪ Senior receiver T.L. Ford needs 3 yards to hit the 1,000-yard mark in his career.
▪ Klugh has accounted for all 10 touchdowns the 49ers have scored in the six games he’s played (five rushing, five passing).
David Scott: @davidscott14