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Mwikuta competing for starting spot

When the University of Alabama football team opens its season on Aug. 5 against the University of Southern California, a former Troup High standout could be in the starting lineup.

King Mwikuta played in 10 games as a true freshman last season, and he’s one of the leading candidates to start at linebacker this season.

Alabama has lost two starting linebackers from last season, and a handful of players, including Mwikuta, are competing for those spots.

“He’s in a good situation,” said Mwikuta’s head coach at Troup High, Tanner Glisson. “He’s worked really hard to get to this point. He’s weighing a little over 250 now. He’s doing really good, and making good grades. He’s super-excited.”

One of the linebackers who has departed is Anfernee Jennings, and when asked about Mwikuta in the days leading up to the Senior Bowl in January, he had nothing but positive things to say about the former Troup Tiger.

“King’s definitely somebody to watch out for,” Jennings said. “He’s just a hard-working kid, smart and just freakish athletic. Just be on the lookout for him. He loves the game.”

Mwikuta played in most of Alabama’s games last season, and he was a key contributor on special teams while also getting some snaps at linebacker.

Mwikuta finished the season with four tackles, with three of them coming in the home opener against New Mexico State.

Mwikuta also had a tackle in Alabama’s Southeastern Conference opener against Ole Miss.

When Mwikuta will be able to rejoin his teammates at Alabama has yet to be determined as the school deals with the coronavirus outbreak.

Alabama’s spring practice was canceled, and Mwikuta and all of the other students are back home and taking classes online.

“He was going to have an opportunity to get out there in spring practice and solidify something, but he did get to go through all the mat drills (in February), and that was really good,” Glisson said.

Mwikuta was a three-year starter at Troup as a defensive lineman, and he was an all-state player as a senior when he helped the team go 12-2 and reach the Class AAAA state semifinals.

Mwikuta was one of the state’s most highly recruited players, and he participated in the Under Armour All-American game that featured some of the country’s top high-school players.

Mwikuta joined an Alabama program that has been the best in the country for more than a decade under head coach Nick Saban.

Alabama has won at least 10 games every season since 2008, and it won national championships in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017.

When he committed to Alabama, Mwikuta said the opportunity to play for a legendary coach was a key to the decision.

“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.”