COLUMBIA -- Asked where he expects to be taken in this weekend's NFL draft, Jarriel King offers a shrug and a short burst of laughter.
After a college career full of ups and downs at South Carolina, the North Charleston native has learned not to get too carried away with assumptions and expectations.
"I know I'm a good player. I know I'm a good athlete," said King, a 6-5, 325-pound mountain of a man who played offensive guard and tackle at USC the past three seasons. "There's no doubt I expect to be drafted. Where? When? I don't know. With this business, you can't tell."
King is projected by most draft services as a late-round selection, depending on teams' needs for a guard or tackle. King's favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, hosted him for a visit earlier in the month. Baltimore is another team that has kicked around taking King.
From all accounts, King has helped himself with a good showing at both the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and the March Pro Day at USC.
"I just want an opportunity to work and show everyone I'm at the top of my position," King said. "No disrespect to the other fellas, because there's some damned good guys out there, but I'm right along that class."
King has not had to defend his athletic ability all that much in interviews with teams. His checkered off-field history, though, has raised plenty of red flags with league officials.
King was twice arrested during his high school career at North Charleston, and he was ultimately convicted of criminal trespassing. King's grades did not allow for his immediate entry into USC, so he went first to Georgia Military College.
But he was kicked out of school after being accused of stealing from classmates.
The NFL has asked about those incidents. King has not been avoiding them, either.
"Straight up, I had issues before. I did this, I did that," he said. "I was immature. I thought I could get away with certain things. Not since I've been (in Columbia), but in my past.
"There's certain things that (teams) are asking about. You look at me now, and there's none of that stuff. I'm not trying to BS my way through the game anymore. I'm just really trying to get it."
As much as King is looking forward to the NFL, he's also taking a peek at the rear-view.
Even when he made it to USC, nothing went precisely to plan. A defensive lineman almost his entire life, the Gamecocks immediately shifted him to left tackle. He started at that very important offensive line position less than a month after arriving on campus.
King had multiple hiccups with a pre-existing heart condition, one that he says no longer requires medication or checkups. He struggled to come back from a concussion late in the 2009 season. He was moved from tackle to guard and back again.
He had three offensive line coaches -- John Hunt, Eric Wolford and Shawn Elliott -- in three seasons. King sort of rolls his eyes talking about that, the inconsistency involved with learning each position coach's nuances and schemes.
But he says it's something that will ultimately benefit him in the NFL. "When I get to the league, and I get with a team, if I've got a coach for more than one year, then basically I can do some damage. I'll finally learn what offensive linemen are -- who they are, how they play. I've been learning on my own, watching YouTube videos of people like (former NFL lineman) Larry Allen or something.
"I'm trying to develop myself to be where the great players are so one day I might be called one of the greats."
King caught some heat, or at least raised eyebrows, at the combine for calling USC coach Steve Spurrier a "butthole." Laughing, King insisted he meant it in the best way possible. "He's one of those guys that's not going to let you ride the bench and be satisfied with it," King said. "He wants you to be the athlete he knows you can be. I appreciate him for that. He pushed me. Honestly, he did.
"He never said too much to me, but the little bit he did say, the constructive criticism, it pushed me a whole lot. When I felt comfortable with lackadaisical effort, he saw it and let me know, 'Hey, you're not all that.' You need to hear that sometimes, and I appreciate him for it."
Like so many prospects waiting this week to hear their name called, all King is asking for is a chance.
"With my family and God behind me, I'm where I'm at right now. I have things I would change, but I'm where I need to be about now," he said. "From this point on, it's all about changing my status and changing who I am to better myself and go to work on Sundays."
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