Former Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball student-athlete Jeff King, who played seven years in the NFL, recently made a generous pledge to Virginia Tech athletics, along with his wife, Katie. The former Katie Esbrook also graduated from Virginia Tech and played volleyball for the Hokies. The couple have committed to making a major gift to Tech athletics that will be split evenly between football, men’s basketball and volleyball to help fund scholarships in all three sports.
“Our experience at Virginia Tech made an immeasurable impact on our lives,” Jeff King said. “Not only did Katie and I meet in Blacksburg, but our time at Tech also helped us prepare for life in countless ways. Even more importantly, we both feel a tremendous sense of gratitude for those coaches, teammates, professors and staff at Virginia Tech who made a difference in shaping who we are today. It is in the spirit of Ut Prosim that we humbly share this gift to benefit a place we hold so deeply in our hearts. Go Hokies!”
Katie King (formerly Esbrook) concluded her career at Tech as a highly decorated student-athlete in her own right. She earned first-team All-ACC honors and All-ACC Academic Team accolades as a senior in 2006 when she was also an AVCA All-America honorable mention selection. The Barrington, Illinois native was a four-year letter winner and played in 435 career matches for the Hokies. She ranks third all-time in Tech history with 461 total blocks, is fourth in career hitting percentage (.324) and is seventh in career kills (1,285).
“Our friends and family have always known how much Jeff and I love Virginia Tech,” Katie said. “When people ask us what was the best part of our time at Tech, our response is ‘pretty much everything.’ Obviously, it starts with people like teammates and coaches who have become lifelong friends, but it was so much more than that. There’s a sense of community and the challenge of accomplishing something good together that creates a special bond for Hokies. We’ve been blessed in so many ways. We’re very honored to give back to Virginia Tech and hopefully this may encourage others to do so, too!”
One of the many individuals at Tech who still holds the Kings in high esteem is former longtime football coach Frank Beamer, who retired following the 2015 season.
“Young men like Jeff King helped our program reach new levels, as we made the move to the ACC,” Beamer said. “Smart, dependable, team-first, did anything we ever asked of him.
“Strong and talented as a tight end,” Beamer continued when describing King. “Of course, I also loved the fact that he was so big and athletic that we could use him on special teams, too. And Katie might have been every bit as talented as an athlete playing volleyball. They’re two of our many, many Virginia Tech success stories. On behalf of everyone at Virginia Tech, we’re so thankful for this generous gift. We encourage other Hokies and former players to follow their lead and join us on the Drive for 25.”
A key member of Tech’s first ACC Championship team in 2004, King caught a touchdown pass in a 16-10 win at Miami that clinched a conference title in the Hokies’ inaugural season playing in the ACC. A four-year football letterman from 2002-05, his teams compiled a combined 31-8 record in his final three seasons. In 53 career games at Tech he caught 58 passes for 724 yards (12.5 avg.), with 12 touchdowns, including six scores as a senior. He also blocked a field goal against Georgia Tech as a senior that was returned for a touchdown.
Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock echoed Beamer’s sentiments in thanking the Kings for their contribution.
“We are very grateful for Jeff and Katie’s generosity to Tech athletics,” Babcock said. “It’s so encouraging to see young alums like Jeff and Katie giving back to their alma mater. While they were both very accomplished athletes at Tech, it’s wonderful to see a continuing trend of former greats like Steve Johnson, André Davis, Lisa Pikalek Karlisch and now the Kings making a very tangible decision to help benefit current and future Hokies.”
A fifth-round selection of Carolina in the 2005 NFL Draft (155th overall), King played in 108 regular-season NFL games (84 starts) with the Panthers (2006-10) and Cardinals (2011-12). He hauled in 156 passes for 1,323 yards, with 12 touchdowns.
King now works as a scout for the Chicago Bears. During his time as a player in Arizona, he began planning for his post-playing career by watching game film from other teams around the league to familiarize himself with personnel across the NFL.
King is also among an elite group of Hokies who competed in both football and basketball at Tech. He saw action in 16 games for the basketball squad in 2004-05.