STONE MOUNTAIN - Heavily recruited running back Caleb King, a star at Parkview the past two seasons, is still considering a transfer to Greater Atlanta Christian for academic and spiritual reasons, according to his brother and guardian, Andre King.
From his Stone Mountain home on Thursday, Andre King commented on the situation to dispel rumors and media reports that Caleb King had finalized a decision to stay at Parkview and to clear up the motivation for the star running back's possible transfer to GAC. The rising senior hasn't made a decision to withdraw from Class AAAAA Parkview, but he does have an application in progress at GAC, a Class AA private school that still hasn't officially admitted King.
Football practice started Wednesday and King, ranked as the No. 1 running back in the nation by Rivals.com, didn't participate with Parkview or GAC because he is in Houston finishing up summer school. He is expected to return home this weekend, and shortly after his family will discuss the benefits of staying at Parkview vs. the positives of transferring to GAC.
"At this time, we have not made a decision on where Caleb will attend (high) school," Andre King said. "Whatever decision is made is for the best interest of Caleb. In (media reports), comments have been made that Caleb is turning his back on his teammates. Caleb is partners with his Parkview family. As his bigger brother and father figure, along with his mother, as a family we have to do what's best for him.
"Statements that the Parkview coaches made that Caleb said he will be back, this statement could be true. (But) the decision doesn't lie just on Caleb. He does have parents. He does have a father figure. This is a family decision. It's not solely on Caleb."
Andre King has worked this summer as a GAC community coach, a volunteer position with no pay, and his new job working with the Spartan running backs fueled transfer rumors that started months ago. The 33-year-old is a former high school coach who spent three seasons at Columbia, including two as offensive coordinator before taking a two-year hiatus to spend more time with Caleb. He said he had targeted Caleb's senior season for awhile as the year he would return to coaching.
While he admits he would enjoy coaching his younger brother again, Andre King said that academics and the Christian core at GAC are the biggest factors in considering a school change.
"GAC is a private school that offers a Christian-based mission and academically a smaller classroom that we as a family found out might be best for Caleb," the elder King said. "He gets the job done in classrooms that are smaller. He's more confident in smaller classrooms. As a big brother, if I can make the sacrifices for him to be in a smaller classroom setting, a private school setting where he'll have more one-on-one time, it's my duty, my job, my commitment to him to do that.
"As a family we need to do what's best for him as a student, not a football player, and as a growing Christian, not the No. 1 football player in Georgia. It's my responsibility as a father figure to make sure he's equipped with all the tools in life he needs to be successful before he goes to college."
One of the things Caleb King needed was work on his academics, so the family pitched in to fund a summer trip to the Houston Learning Academy, a school in Texas near where the Kings have family. Andre King said his younger brother took six classes in summer school and already has completed four, earning three Bs and one C. He added that his final two classes finish on Friday, and he has 81 and 80 averages in those classes, which his brother said leaves him needing only three classes to graduate from high school.
The bountiful scholarship offers from major colleges and his 2,765 rushing yards as a Parkview junior are affirmations that Caleb King has athletic talent, but his brother said a school like GAC could help strengthen his academics and his faith.
"It's not about football," Andre King said of the family's reasons for thinking about a transfer. "If it was about football, why would we leave a powerhouse like Parkview? He's not quitting on anybody. What he's doing is working on some fundamentals to get him ready for the next level. We definitely want to prepare him.
"It's not about football. I wouldn't care if Caleb missed his whole senior season. I'd rather him miss his senior season of high school than his freshman season of college. ... Nobody wants an athlete that cannot produce in the classroom. Caleb's goal now is to get a degree, not just play football. That's one thing I'm proud of. He's matured a lot.
"(A GAC transfer is) nothing bad against Parkview. A lot of kids are fine there. Look at Brad Lester. Look at Jeff Francoeur. They're good kids. Jeff did well in the system and that was a good system for him. As parents, we're just saying we have all these other tools but let's build on this. Let's build on these scriptures. We want to help Caleb develop as a Christian and as a student. I have a question - why not GAC?"
Andre King said a major reason no final decision has been made yet is because his brother has been in Texas this summer. While the Kings see GAC as a good fit, they want to discuss it more with Caleb, who has loyalty to his Parkview teammates and coaches, particularly assistants Robert Hill and Steve Brooks.
The family's decision will come soon with school starting at both Parkview and GAC on Aug. 14. The first regular-season football games are Sept. 1.
"According to the newspaper and television, (Caleb's) been portrayed as a selfish person, but that's not Caleb," Andre King said. "He wants to graduate at Parkview right now, but the decision's not totally up to him. I'm very sincere about one thing, I'm very passionate about Caleb, not only as a football player, but as a person and as a Christian. I want him to have all the tools that I don't think the public schools can give. Having been at GAC the past couple of weeks, GAC has a lot to offer him.
"Me personally, I'm leaning toward GAC, me and his mother. I'm trying to get him ready for life, not just college .... There's nothing on this earth, no football coach, no football team, that can get you more prepared for life than Christ."