STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -Justin King's career at No. 17 Penn State could end as quickly as he runs down receivers on the field.
NFL draft experts are already salivating over the speedy cover cornerback's considerable talents. King, a junior, has said his immediate priority is getting the Nittany Lions back to another bowl game.
Penn State opens the 2007 campaign Saturday against Florida International.
``I feel real good about coming into this season,'' King said. ``Just stay humble, and keep working hard and it will pay off.''
Things get a little murky after this season, though.
King has said that, like any college player with dreams of turning pro, he has thought about leaving after his junior season, the first year college players are eligible to be drafted.
He already is set to graduate in December - three years after arriving in Happy Valley.
As one of coach Joe Paterno's prized recruits, King graduated from high school early and enrolled at Penn State in January 2005, the semester before his first game with the Nittany Lions. That gave King a head start on his education and his familiarity with the college game.
``King came in as an outstanding athlete and he's played as an outstanding athlete,'' Paterno said. ``He's had an outstanding preseason practice. I think he's one of the better corners in the country.''
Opposing teams noticed and didn't throw his way much last season, and King was often assigned to an offense's top wideout.
At the Outback Bowl in January, King held Tennessee standout Robert Meachem to four catches and 33 yards. Explosive Ohio State receiver Ted Ginn Jr. was blanketed by King, held to two receptions and 15 yards during a game in which King also made a diving interception.
Early on, King had some trouble tackling, but that problem seemed to disappear.
``I want to be a technician coming into the position,'' King said. ``I don't like it when people say I can just run.''
There's talent around the rest of the Penn State secondary, too.
Safety Anthony Scirrotto led the Big Ten in interceptions last season with six, and figures to be a prominent part of the Nittany Lions defense again if legal woes following a fight in April don't keep him off the field.
Hard-hitting Tony Davis was moved before spring practice from corner to the other safety spot, a position in which the junior said he's just starting to get comfortable.
``He's like a hybrid. He can play in close, he can play in space,'' King said. ``It's a great move.''
Lydell Sargeant, friends with King since the third grade, has the edge over fast A.J. Wallace at the other corner position. Sargeant was one of four Nittany Lions, including Scirrotto, kicked out of school for the second summer session for their roles in the fight.
Paterno said he likes Sargeant's athleticism and attention to detail, and that the cornerback has overcome his off-field concerns.
With speed and a year of experience, Penn State's secondary could be one of the best in the Big Ten, if not the country. King sets the pace.
``With the intensity that he brings, the way he goes about in practice getting ready,'' Davis said, ``you can tell, he has total confidence.''

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