October 31, 2017 8:52:28 PM
There was a little fear and anticipation.
Despite being in this business for parts of four decades, there is always that twinge of excitement when you are meeting someone for the first time.
In this business, we cover events. It is our job to detail what happened in the event and to sometimes provide analysis of that event. Our job is to give you something you don't know.
The best way to tell the full story of an event is to talk to the participants. It's nice to talk to coaches. It's even better to talk to players.
Players directly impact the outcome of an event. Yes, it's usually a team spot. However, it is usually a team sport decided by players making individual plays.
So there we were in Southaven on a brutally cold night for football in the fall of 2015. Before the game, your faithful scribe had an accident at a gas pump and wound up being doused.
If anyone was smoking at the football stadium, it's a good bet the whole press box would go up in flames.
Columbus trailed 10-0 but righted the ship and pulled out a 20-10 victory. Coach Randal Montgomery got Kylin Hill on the bus and that is why the Falcons were able to move to 4-0 in region play.
The Columbus defense had a standout night in the win. One young man really stood above the others.
His name was Devon King or perhaps it was Devin King - you don't know for sure when multiple rosters have different spellings.
King was listed 5-foot-10 on the roster but this writer had serious doubts. Nonetheless, he was there breaking up passes, recording tackles, flirting with interceptions and making life miserable for the Southaven pass receivers.
Chris Blair and Derrick Beckom were already household names and solid interviews. However, it was time to try someone new.
High school interviews are much more different than college interviews. Players are on their own and writers are there to hunt them down. Typically, coaches will tell when a player is not available. However, more often than not, you can be granted a moment or two with the player of your choice.
Thus, the hunt was on for King. Even though the roster still had him at 5-10, he was not easy to be found.
Finally, this young man emerges from the locker room. He was nervous. He was shy. This wasn't a football field, where he had the confidence level of a professional.
As the conversation began, King found his rhythm. He talked about making plays. He talked about playing with a great group of teammates. He talked about being part of a historic run for Columbus.
Through each answer, the smile got wider and wider.
A comfort level was eventually found and King was treating me far better than he had treated those Southaven pass receivers.
Finally, the interview was concluded and the long ride back to Columbus began. A quick Twitter search found Devon's personal account. From there, we knew how to spell his name. The follow button was then hit.
A direct message then followed. If nothing else, it is always the right thing to do to thank a young man for his time after the game. Players are ready to shower, eat a meal and hug a girl friend. To take time to grant an interview will never be unappreciated.
From there, the friendship formed. King became a mainstay in the Columbus secondary. It became a thrill to describe his big plays on radio and to write about them in print.
His production was not as good over the last two years. That is what happens when the word is out. Coaches see the opposing film and realize it is just best to throw in the opposite direction of No. 2.
Even though Columbus has dropped from eight wins to six wins to two wins this season, the smile has never faded. King still plays with a heart much bigger than his size and a motor always at full throttle.
His leadership has been valuable for a Columbus team still trying to find its way this late in the season. The bounce back for the Falcons will be strong next season. When Christopher Deloach comes back for a game, there is always a hug. It is strong and forceful. Now, King will be one of the ones coming back to see his old team play. When our paths cross, there will always be a hello and time to catch up on our respective lives.
He will still be 5-10 but the smile will still be wide. On a college football field, another team's groups of receivers will find life miserable because No. 2 will be on the scene and passes will be batted down left and right.
Friday night, Columbus ends the season at Hernando. This year, there is no playoff berth. However, there will be memories.
No. 2 has come a long way in his three seasons. Hopefully, whomever interviews him on the next level will take good care of him, too.
Scott Walters is a sports writer for The Dispatch. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott.
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.
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