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STATE COLLEGE – Penn State knew it was bringing in high-quality football talent in the Detroit twin duo of Kobe and Kalen King.

247Sports’ four-star cornerback Kalen King and three-star linebacker Kobe King arrived in Happy Valley in January as early enrollees, and the two have received accolades both from Penn State coaches and their Nittany Lions teammates.

“He’s a great talent,” Penn State cornerback Keaton Ellis said of Kalen King on Tuesday. “He’s a good athlete; he’s a smart kid. Coming in as a freshman, you get a lot of stuff being thrown at you, and he’s been able to handle that really well. I’m just really excited to keep seeing that grow.”

The Kings verbally committed to Penn State out of Cass Technical High last April as part of a one-week state of Michigan recruiting haul that also included four-star safety Jaylen Reed.

Kobe King at the time cited familiarity with the program, as other Cass Tech products played for the Nittany Lions, as part of the reason he and his brother committed.

Penn State cornerbacks coach Terry Smith said the duo have already infused the defense with more than just athleticism.

“(Kalen) has come in from Day One, he’s taken a mature approach – he and his brother Kobe,” Smith said. “These guys are as mature as you can get as freshmen. … These guys are working to be early contributors on our team.”

Penn State starting linebacker Brandon Smith played in 13 games as a true freshman in 2019, and the challenges that accompanied his acclimation process with college football haven’t been forgotten.

“He’s definitely ahead of what I was when I first came in, as far as knowledge of the playbook and just being as comfortable as he is now,” Smith said of Kobe King on Tuesday.

“Me coming out of high school, I wasn’t. I was in a position in high school where I was just playing freely and just basically roaming free. Him being where he’s from and having the more structured defense, he’s basically just moving into another structure, which he has an upper hand, as far as that.”

Penn State coach James Franklin said he knew of the talent both Kobe and Kalen King possessed. What Franklin’s come to learn and admire since the duo’s January arrival is their work ethic.

Franklin said it’s not unusual for him to come to the football complex on the weekend and see them watching film or getting reps on the JUGS machine.

“Just a very mature approach, and they’re really approaching it the right way. That, I think, is going to allow them to compete at a very high level this summer for playing time on defense, on special teams, and probably both,” Franklin said on Wednesday.

“We knew both were good, but both have probably come in better than we anticipated, especially from an approach and a maturity standpoint.”

Elton Hayes is a veteran sports writer who covers Penn State for CNHI LLC publications. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.

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