In every aspect of his life, Mitch King has always had that extra heartbeat.
He was certainly a gifted athlete and multisport star in high school, but it was his drive and passion that set him apart and helped him earned him a scholarship to the University of Iowa to play football.
It was that extra heartbeat and effort the led to King being one of the most decorated defensive linemen in Iowa Football history.
He might not have had ideal size to play defensive tackle in the Big Ten, but from 2005 to 2008 the Burlington native made up for it with heart, guts, determination, and drive. In his senior year, King was named Defensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten and first team All American honors by ESPN.com.
Not bad for a kid who arrived in Iowa City in 2004 weighing about 230 pounds and was expecting to play linebacker.
King personified what Hayden Fry called the "Extra Heartbeat" that makes Iowa Football so special and was honored with that award his senior season. He was the guy that gave the extra effort on every down, no matter the score or the situation.
With his professional career now concluded at age 26, King is now back in Iowa and embarking on something he has wanted to do for many years, sharing his football experiences and the meaning of having that extra heartbeat with younger players back in his hometown of Burlington, IA.
The 1st "Extra Heartbeat" Football Academy will take place in Burlington from June 10-12 and will feature three days of instruction from a star studded group of former Hawkeyes, including King, Abdul Hodge, Brad Banks, Albert Young, A.J. Blazek, James Vandenberg, and many more. The camp will be geared for kids 6th grade thru 12th grade.
There will also be a 7 on 7 Southeastern Shootout that takes place on June 12th and is open to athletes' grade 9-12.
"I want this camp to exemplify how I played the game," King said. "If you are going to do something in life, even if it isn't football, give it that extra effort and show that extra heartbeat."
Since concluding his Iowa career, King has been asked a number of times to come back and work at various camps and even have something in his hometown. He's declined most of those opportunities because he wanted to do it right. Now is the right time in his life to give back.
"I have been asked to come back and help out in my hometown and I wasn't in a place in my life where I felt I could do something like that and make it worthwhile," King said. "I've been to a few camps and helped out and didn't feel they were much more than throwing the football around. I didn't want anything with my name on it and have people walking away feeling we just paid for this. I wanted it to be a great learning experience for the kids and also something the community can be proud of and that they will look forward to every year."
The focus of the three day camp, which will include five sessions of drill work and instruction, will be strictly on football, learning the game, and playing it the right way.
"I want kids to walk away from the camp feeling that they actually learned something about football and what it takes to compete at a high level," he said.
While King doesn't like the word "retirement" he says his playing career has come to a close after stints in Tennessee, Indianapolis, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Houston in the NFL. He looks back with no regrets and looks forward to giving back to the town where he grew up.
"I had a good ride. I don't have any ill will about the way things turned out for me. I'm walking away from the game 80% healthy and I can't complain," he said. "Playing football was always my dream. It's always what I wanted to do and I got to do it. Not everyone can say that. I got to play with guys like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. I'm really happy with what I did and what I accomplished. I think I had a great career at Iowa and that's part of why I want to do this camp, to give back to the people back here in Southeast Iowa."