Who Is Marquette King?

Marquette King….Marquette {mahr-ket}….not “Mar-qqq-etty”….not “Mar-qweet”….JUST Mahr-ket.  As unique as this man’s name is, what’s even more unique is his electrifying persona and play on the field.  Marquette has broken barriers and history with who he is within the professional atmosphere of football.  His unapologetic colorful character has been a bright spot within the new 2020 branded XFL.  To be doing a “Who Is…” on Marquette seems weird, because its not like most people don’t already know who he is from his career in the NFL.  I chose Marquette for this one because I don’t think most of us know WHY Marquette hasn’t given up the game of football all together even though he’s not playing in the NFL anymore.  In many ways, I personally feel that Marquette being in the XFL is amazing.  With the new kicking and punting rules being implemented in the XFL, we get to see a stellar punter like Marquette really utilize those rules to near perfection.  This in turn has prompted conversations within the NFL to adopt these same XFL rules. In a lot of ways, Marquette is helping the special teams XFL branding look really appealing. Still the most intriguing question, while the XFL has such a phenomenal player in Marquette, what makes him who he is?  Why is his love for football so strong? How in the WORLD did this man become a punter? Who is Marquette King?

If you have ever played any sport growing up, stop and think why you played that sport.  Did you hoop because you wanted to be “like Mike”? Did you play football because it was the pastime of your family?  Did you play baseball because a baseball was the first ball you ever threw? Now let’s drill down a bit further.  With whatever sport you picked, why did you pick the position you played?

If we asked Marquette this question, he would tell you that he originally took an interest in wide receiver. He would soon grow bored of running routes and would make a pivotal decision in his football position interest.  While attending Rutland High School in Macon, Georgia, Marquette began punting in his spare time.  Its literally the one thing you can do on the football field by yourself.  He would challenge himself on distance, power, and accuracy.  His high school coach, Lance Perlman, told WXIA, “There’d be times in practice where he’d punt them so high and far, it would stop practice….Guys would be looking and go, ‘Holy cow.’ He’s putting them up in the atmosphere.”

This skill that Marquette had developed as a punter all stemmed from his willingness to not settle for just playing receiver. He chose to turn and practice at a punter position where there weren’t many, if any, players that looked like him.  This type of attitude of being different and standing out would be a recurring theme in Marquette’s football life. 

So now Marquette has developed this exceptional punting skill. Surely scouts are knocking down the door at Rutland High School to get a chance to see Marquette punt footballs through the stratosphere, right?  WRONG.  Rutland High’s Offense was really REALLY good.  So good, that Marquette only punted the ball 5 times during his senior year.  He couldn’t even make a minute-long mixtape if he wanted to.  AGAIN, Marquette is faced with another obstacle, but he doesn’t let this stop him.  Upon graduating high school in 2008, Marquette would attend Fort Valley State University, a historically black college about 35 minutes from his hometown of Macon, GA.  Marquette would join the team as a wide receiver and kind of just punted as a secondary need.  It wasn’t until a coaching change after his freshman year that he would be told, in so many words, “punt or we’ll take your scholarship”.  Marquette told Donal Ware of HBCU GAMETIME, “They found out I could punt and made me stay at punter or they were going to take my scholarship…..I was kind of forced to stay a punter.”  This strong-armed approach would be just what Marquette needed to continue to hone his skills. 

King’s junior year would be his first full time season as a punter. He punted 54 times for 2144 yards and averaged 39.7 yards per punt with 17 punts inside the 20-yard line.  He balled his junior year, but he would absolutely dominate during his senior year.  Marquette would punt 60 times for 2582 yards, averaged 43 yards per punt, and had 21 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.  King’s stellar stats and performance would reward him with an All-First Team Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference award, and a 2011 Fort Valley State University MVP award.  Marquette’s powerful leg and drop-dead accuracy would earn him national collegiate recognition as he competed for the first annual 2012 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.  Typically, this senior bowl was designated for collegiate players to compete from Division 1 institutions.  Fort Valley State was a D-2 school, but clearly King’s abilities were just too good to pass up. 

Although Marquette’s punting game garnered him great national attention, he still went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft.  King would still have a chance to try out for the Oakland Raiders, where he signed as an undrafted free agent.  He would also have the honor of entering the league as the fifth African American punter in the history of the NFL.  King would not have a chance to start until his second year in the NFL and quickly made an impact.  His best season would come in 2014, where he led the NFL in total punts and total yards, with 109 punts and 4,930 yards which set a single season franchise record for the Oakland Raiders.   King would go on to have some incredible years with the Raiders, being named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week during Week 15 of the 2015 season. He was also named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in Week 7 of the 2016 season. 

Upon the hiring of Jon Gruden in preparation of the 2018 season, Marquette was released by the Raiders on March 30, 2018.  Marquette would not even be made aware of this release, and it really sucked because Marquette was a staple within the Raiders organization for all those years.  He would be picked up by the Denver Broncos April 5, 2018 but sustained a thigh injury which placed King on injured reserve October 6, 2018. October 8th, 2018, literally 2 days after being placed on injury reserve, King would be released after an injury settlement.

Marquette King would be selected by the St. Louis Battlehawks in the XFL Supplemental Draft and has not disappointed as one of the most hype punters in the league.  Outside of having what would have been one of the most perfect punts during the Week 1 matchup between the Battlehawks and the Dallas Renegades, Marquette has been the biggest hype men for the St. Louis organization.  He’s free to celebrate, dance, and just all around be the dope person he is. I hope the XFL can retain Marquette as an ongoing character within their league.  He has even come up with marketing strategies based around good special teams plays to drive fan attendance (a little liquid incentive).  He’s truly a driving force for the XFL brand, and if the NFL is too scared to allow a colorful personality like Marquette’s play the punting position for their league, then that’s their loss. 

Also, make sure you follow Marquette on social media.  The man is hilarious and just likes to spread good vibes. 

Thanks for reading.

U.S. Football Forum, Where Football Is King


Watch the full documentary at https://youtu.be/ZrbIxsVG84w

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