On the final cut day of the 2013 off-season, two punters, Marquette King and Chris Kluwe, remained on the Raiders 53-man roster. Who would win the position the two had been competing for since May? The answer came the following day, September 1, 2013, when the Raiders released Kluwe.
King is the Raiders starting punter for the 2013 season.
Head Coach Dennis Allen explained the Raiders decision to keep King on the squad. "He out-punted him. Marquette won the competition as the punter," said Coach Allen. "We'll continue to work with the holding situation. I think [Sebastian Janikowski] feels comfortable. The good thing is we've got a Hall of Fame-type kicker, an outstanding kicker, so I don't really anticipate that being an issue."
When the second-year player out of Fort Valley State University received the news that he still had a job in the Bay Area, he was relieved. "It feels great. I still have a lot of work to do though," said King. "I want to be great at it."
One of King's first phone calls was to his mom, whose birthday was Sunday. When she answered, he told his mom he had a present for her. When she asked what it was he was able to tell her that he was the Raiders punter; he had won the job.
A few months ago, it was unclear who would be left standing by Week 1 of the 2013 Regular Season. King worked hard to fill the role the Raiders wanted from a punter.
Having to compete for the punting job pushed King to the next level.
"It helped out a lot, but most of all, I was just trying to compete against myself, trying to compete against what I did the day before and try to be better than that," said King.
He has had the opportunity to work with experienced special teams coach Bobby April. "He's had a big impact," explained King. "I feel like if you surround yourself with successful people that are real good at what they do, it rubs off on you. Just being around him, he's funny, he makes you feel relaxed, but he makes you want to work hard. He celebrates with me too, and I like that."
King has also learned from Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green, who he met at the NFLPA All Star game in January 2012. "I talk to Darrell Green a lot, the Hall of Fame cornerback, and he tells me what I need to do is look at the good things that I do and not so much at the bad," said King. "Watch the good stuff and try to repeat the good stuff over and over."
King has earned the starting job and he expects to be great. "I expect to be, first and foremost, one of the best punters to help this team win games and set this team up in the best position as possible," said King. "And just be one of the most hard working, best punter in the league."
He wants to fill the spot of two of the greatest punters of all time – Ray Guy and Shane Lechler. Not only does he want to fill the spot, he aspires to be even better. "I want to leave a legacy, but I also want to be better. I can do the same things they did [physically], it's just if I'm going to put the work in…and I want to be better."
King's confidence and his determined mindset were molded over the last year working with Janikowski.
"I think I picked up some of his style in the way he thinks, his mindset," King explained. "His mindset is like, 'Nobody is better than me. I'm the best at what I do and I guarantee I'll do what I have to do and nobody can stop me.' Just being around him helped me get that mindset and I think that mindset helped me out a lot because I didn't have that mindset last year."
Now it's King's chance to make an impact in the Silver and Black. "Putting on the Raiders jersey means a lot," said King. "You look at the Raider shield and it's kind of like, 'I don't play no games,' type image. You're going to bring the heat. You're going to bring the pain. Silver and Black – just strong colors, just showing that we mean business. It feels good."
King's first regular season NFL game will be played against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Sunday, September 8. He is approaching the game as he would any other. "I'm looking at it just like I did during the preseason," said King. "I want to perform."
Make sure to watch the Raiders newest starting punter in action Sunday at 10:00 a.m. PT on CBS.