NEW PALESTINE — Home, sweet home.

The amount of quarterback sacks, and tackles around and behind the line of scrimmage, in Indiana are going to be increasing.

Kyle King has come back home.

The defensive lineman from New Palestine, selected the 2019 Mr. Football for his position, plans to play the remainder of his college football career closer to where he grew up.

After helping lead the Dragons to back-to-back Class 5A state football titles, King went to Michigan State University. Shortly after the Spartans 2021 bowl game, he transferred to Ball State University in Muncie.

“A big part of my decision to leave was being a little homesick,” King said. “I was driving home almost every weekend to come see family.”

King was in East Lansing, Mich., for two seasons.

A redshirt his initial year, he played defensive tackle in eight contests — around 10 snaps per game — for one of the stronger Spartans teams in recent years. Michigan State went 11-2, 7-2 in the Big 10, and played in the Peach Bowl. The Spartans finished No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll.

But it wasn’t home, both on and off the field.

Recruited as a defensive end by then-coach Mark Dantonio, King was moved to defensive tackle when Mel Tucker became the coach in early 2020. He also had a brief stint as a tight end.

“The position change, I didn’t really expect it, but I was just trying to do whatever I needed to do to get on the field,” King said. “They were rotating me around to see where I could fit in. I was down to do whatever, but at the end of the day I was wanting to come back home.”

At New Palestine, King was named first-team all-state. He set a school record for sacks in a season with 18 and had 28.5 for his career to go with 53 tackles for loss. At 6-4, 240 pounds he was a load for any high school offensive lineman to handle.

He finished off his final high school season with a 27-20 victory over Valparaiso in the Class 5A state title game. He had two tackles for loss, one sack, and a pass breakup.

“It’s kind of a small town vibe to me in a way, so it kind of relates me back to high school, and I already know a lot of people that go to the school,” King said of his transition to the city of Muncie and BSU. “I am a lot more comfortable.”

King has comfort on the field, too, playing defensive end.

He had gained 30 pounds on his 6-feet, 4-inch frame to play defensive tackle. He got up to 276 pounds, but has since dropped 10 with plans on playing pretty close to his current weight between 265-270 pounds.

“It definitely feels a lot better,” King said. “Putting on all that weight was kind of brutal. I felt a lot slower up there with the heavyweights. I’m loving being back at defensive end.”

It didn’t take long for Ball State, or others, to call after King entered the transfer portal.

Ball State came in with a huge advantage. King was going to be able to play defensive end and he was going to play it much closer to home.

Also, out of high school, Ball State was the first school to offer King a scholarship.

“It’s kind of cool how it came full circle. It’s the same staff that recruited me out of high school,” King said, referring to Ball State head coach Mike Neu, defensive coordinator Tyler Stockton and defensive line coach Keith McKenzie.

The former Dragon star was able to enroll at Ball State for the spring semester, which included participating in spring workouts.

His first stint with his new team went well. He hopes to compete for a starting position this season, but definitely sees more playing time in his near future.

“I wanted to come to Ball State. It’s one of the closest schools to my house,” King added. “That was like my main thing, just getting my mental state back and being able to come home if I needed to.”

“I am definitely excited (about the upcoming season),” he added. “I’ve been itching to play for a while. I came off a great high school career and I was ready to get back into it. Some things don’t work out. You get switched around, mixed up in the lineup, it’s not all what you think at the beginning. Now, I am in a good spot to make some plays and I am excited for the season. I am counting down the days.”

It’s not too far away. King and the Cardinals will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to open their season Sept. 1 at the University of Tennessee.

His first game in front of the home crowd at Scheumann Stadium will be Sept. 10 in Ball State’s Mid-American Conference opener against Western Michigan.

When he looks back, even though things didn’t work out in East Lansing, King said he took away some positives during his time in a Spartan uniform.

“I definitely enjoyed my time at Michigan State,” he said. “I was fully in when I committed there. The first couple months and first year went well, and then you start realizing how different college ball is from high school ball. You can’t really come home throughout the season, at all, or be home for holidays, but I’m glad I went there.”

“I made a lot of lifelong friends and had a lot of great experiences with the coaches, but you have to go where your heart is happy. Back home is where my heart is happy.”