116 3rd St SE
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AMES — Iowa State junior safety Kym-Mani King wasn’t supposed to be the guy at field safety for the Cyclones.
That spot was supposed to go to Jaquon Amos, a graduate transfer from Villanova.
But the work King put in from January to Iowa State’s first game earned him a spot.
“... he worked his tail off to earn the job and he made us play him,” ISU football coach Matt Campbell said.
Then, early in the season, King broke his hand during practice.
That hasn’t slowed him down much, however.
Against Kansas, with what amounted to a club on his left hand, he made an interception in the end zone.
King has gotten used to playing with a club on his hand and his production hasn’t dipped.
He has 24 tackles, which is eighth on the team. Where King really shines is one-on-one tackling. Of his 24 tackles, 18 are solo stops, which is fourth on the team.
“I don’t think playing with a broken hand is that bad,” King said. “You have to take it as it is and just run with it. It can be difficult grip-wise here and there but it’s not that bad.”
Campbell appreciates the effort and willingness King has to play through the injury.
“Kym-Mani is a great example,” Campbell said. “At safety, in this conference, playing against some of the people we’re playing against, it is a real challenge to not have both of your hands to be able to wrap up and tackle and to do some of the other things I think Kym-Mani was doing an exceptional job of early on.
“What it does force you to do is fundamentally be elite.”
That’s one thing King noted, too. He has to be much more positionally sound and really focus on form tackling.
“It doesn’t hurt when I’m tackling,” King said. “I don’t feel it at all.”
In Iowa State’s last game against West Virginia, King had a career-high six tackles, including one for loss.
“What he’s been able to transfer over as he’s worked his way back onto the football field, is his fundamentals have drastically improved, which has allowed him to play good football,” Campbell said. “He’s still really physical, and you saw that on Saturday. He’s going to come up and he has the ability to make open-field tackles as good as anybody. I’m really proud of what he has done.
“He has made monumental growth from where he was last January to where he is right now as a football player, with his mentality and how he is as a leader. He’s been big for us.”