Memorable birthday for Troup’s Mwikuta

Published 4:36 pm Friday, December 15, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

It was a birthday King Mwikuta will never forget.

Mwikuta, a junior who is coming off a phenomenal season as a member of the Troup football team, was the man of the moment on Friday morning during a ceremony in the school’s media center.

Earlier in the week, Mwikuta announced that he was prepared to make a verbal commitment to the college of his choice and put an end to his recruitment.

After being introduced by Troup head coach Tanner Glisson, Mwikuta made his way to the podium, and he ended the suspense when he put on a University of Alabama baseball cap.

Mwikuta is committed to Alabama, although he can’t make it official until next December when he’ll be able to sign a letter of intent.

“I just felt in my heart this is the right thing to do,” Mwikuta said. “I talked to coach (Glisson) for many, many days, countless hours, and this is what I really wanted to do. I almost postponed it until next year, because I was so nervous about it. I’ve been praying about it and praying about it, and God just said go ahead and do it. I think this is the right thing for me to do to get where I want to get to in life.”

When Glisson arrived at Troup as the head coach in 2015, he was greeted by a talented freshman class that included Mwikuta.

Mwikuta didn’t play as a freshman, but he stepped into the lineup as a sophomore and has been an impact player the past two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Mwikuta is primarily a defensive lineman for Troup, although he is slated to be a linebacker in college.

“This will be my first full class as head football coach here at Troup when King graduates. So that class is very, very special to me,” Glisson said. “King is no doubt one of the centerpieces to this program that has put us back on the map in the state of Georgia, and we’re very excited about that.”

Glisson said that Mwikuta has been a model student-athlete.

“King has never missed a workout. He has never missed a practice. He is in school every day,” Glisson said. “There’s no time other than us taking him for a visit that he misses school. He’s the first one out on the practice field. He’s great with my children, with the way he treats my wife, with the way he treats everybody he comes into contact with.”

Glisson added that “as good of a football player as he is, he is a much better individual, a much better person. His work ethic, his sheer love for his classmates, his teammates, along with that King Mwikuta smile is what we have grown to love here at Troup High.”

Mwikuta had plenty of options when it came time to choose a college.

Among the schools he considered was the University of Miami, the team he pulled for growing up, as well as the University of Georgia.

When it came time to choose, though, Mwikuta decided Alabama was the right fit for him, and he’ll get an opportunity to play for the most successful coach in college football in Nick Saban.

“Coach Saban, he’s one of the best coaches there is today,” Mwikuta said. “He’s been around for a long time. I feel like if I get coached by him, the sky’s the limit.”

A steady parade of coaches from colleges across the country have stopped by Troup to visit Mwikuta, and Glisson said he has handled everything well.

“He’s done great,” Glisson said. “He’s been very respectful to everybody that’s come in the door. He’s been a great teammate. He’s put his teammates above everybody else. So the way he’s handled this thing has been tremendous.”

The people closest to Mwikuta were on hand for Friday’s ceremony, including his beloved grandmother Yvonne, who has raised him since he was 7-years-old following the death of his other.

“Thank you grandma. I love you dearly,” Mwikuta said. “And this one’s for you momma. I love you, and I know you’ll be proud of me.”

Glisson remembers meeting with Mwikuta and his grandmother after he became the head coach at Troup, and he’s grateful for her support.

“From the first time I sat with you on the porch in West Point, I could tell that you have the love, the dedication and yes, even the toughness to raise King and prepare him for these moments,” Glisson said. “We love you and thank you for all you have done, and for trusting us with the process as well.”

Mwikuta has one more season of high-school football remaining, and he’ll be a focal point of a team that should be one of the best in Class AAAA next season.

Troup went 9-3 last season and reached the second round of the state playoffs before losing a close one to St. Pius X.

After that, Mwikuta said he’ll consider enrolling early at Alabama, which means he’d be able to participate in spring practice in 2019.

“It’s the next step in my life,” Mwikuta said. “I’m proud to be here where I am today. When I first met him, coach G was saying this is what I’ve got to do, this is how we’re going to do it. That’s how he broke it down. He said if you commit to excellence, the sky’s the limit.”

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