Linebacker Tyler King in the game against Rhode Island on Sept. 1. King is entering his second full season with Stony Brook football. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

When it comes to Stony Brook football players, it is hard to find one more talented, impactful or hard-working than linebacker Tyler King. 

On a Stony Brook defense that features several key players, it can be easy to be overshadowed. However, King stands out among the group as one of the best overall players in the Colonial Athletic Conference (CAA). King has always been more than just a Stony Brook football star, and he has always shined among the rest.

King grew up just outside of Pittsburgh in Wexford, Pa.. He went to high school at Pine-Richland High School, where he played football and became a standout. Football is in King’s DNA, as he comes from a football family.

His father, Anthony Aliucci, was a star quarterback at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) where he was a first-team Division II All-American selection. His younger brother, Spencer, also played football at Pine-Richland. King decided that he wanted to pursue a career in football back in middle school.

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“I started playing football when I was really young; around first grade,” King said in an interview with The Statesman. “Middle school came around and I saw some guys from our high school going to some D1 schools and playing college football. I thought, ‘That would be really cool.’ That’s when I started to kick up my work ethic and really set that as a goal for myself.”

King’s high school career was very successful, as he led his team to two league titles and a state championship victory while receiving All-State honors twice. He lettered four times with the varsity football team and racked up 371 total tackles in his high school career before graduating in 2019. 

“I was a three-star recruit in high school,” King said. “I had about a dozen offers, and most of them were FBS offers.”

Despite that, King never went FBS. He originally committed to joining the Naval Academy while in high school, but that wound up never panning out. After being unable to redshirt in his freshman year at Navy, he attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School in the fall of 2019 instead. 

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“In the Naval Academy, you can’t redshirt,” King said. “There’s a thing called the Naval Academy Preparatory School, and it’s pretty much like a redshirt. I had actually transferred from there to Stony Brook in January of 2020.”

Attending the preparatory school did not cost King a year of NCAA eligibility, it served as a postgraduate year. Because of that, he is currently classified as a redshirt sophomore with at least three years left of eligibility (including 2022). Now 22, King is in his third year at Stony Brook University. Things have gone well for King since arriving, as his career on the field has been nothing short of a success. However, that has not come without a few bumps in the road.

King’s first year as a Seawolf saw the COVID-19 pandemic waylay the 2020 NCAA football season. It was delayed until the spring of 2021, and King said that the unorthodox scheduling and rules made it difficult for him to acclimate with his new team. 

“It made it hard for me to create a lot of relationships because everyone was locked away in their rooms and not really coming out a lot,” King said. 

When King first got to Stony Brook, he was third string on the depth chart, making it unlikely that he would see the field. Despite being frustrated and disappointed with his role at the time, King found motivation in a conversation between him and linebackers coach Matt Hachmann. Hachmann told him that if he showed up with a positive attitude and gave his best effort every day, that things would work out well for him.

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King did as his coach instructed, and he wound up making an instant impact for the team as a true freshman. King played in all four games of that season and racked up 19 total tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. He also recorded a sack, forced a fumble and recovered two fumbles.

“I’m very glad that I listened to Coach and did what he told me to do,” King said. “That’s why I was able to get on the field and help us make some plays.”

King only got better from that point on. His next season with Stony Brook began only five months later, and he proved that his promising play from the 2020 season was not a fluke. He started in all 11 games of the 2021 season and finished sixth in the CAA in tackles (95), tackles for loss (12.5) and tackles per game (8.6). He also tallied a sack, a forced fumble and his first career interception. He was later selected to the All-CAA second team.

King credits his trust in his team as well as his experience from the spring season as reasons for his breakout in 2021.

“I really bought into the program,” King said. “The spring season helped a lot because it calmed my nerves. I went into the fall 2021 season knowing that I could do it. I had the capability of doing it, and I knew I could level up a notch.”

King’s hard work and performance has helped elevate the level of play from Stony Brook’s entire defense. The 2021 team finished third in the CAA in total defense and fifth in scoring defense. One person who notices King’s impact is fellow linebacker and team captain Reidgee Dimanche.

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“The first thing that always comes to my mind is tenacity,” Dimanche said. “He is a strong-willed guy and he’s ready to get the ball down whenever it comes to him. Even in practice he’s always by the ball. I feel like that’s really what sets him apart is his tendencies in practice. It’s really infectious for the other people … and the new guys as well.”

That tenacious, hard-working mindset helps keep King a step ahead of the rest. He always tries to put in work whenever he gets the chance, no matter how busy he gets.

“It’s really nonstop,” King said. “We have football for five hours in the morning and then school. On weekends, if I could get in an extra lift here and there I’m going to do it. I hate sitting around; I love being productive. It’s a lot, but it’s fun at the same time.”

Going into his second full season (third in total), King is trying to spread his mindset to his teammates. He said he is trying to take a larger role as a vocal leader for the team. 

“This season, I’ve been trying to grow into more of a leadership role,” King said. “I’ve been trying to use my voice to get us fired up, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

On the field, expectations remain high for King on behalf of the media. He was named to the 2022 Preseason All-CAA team, basically predicting him to be one of the best players in the conference once again. King downplayed the honor, saying that it “doesn’t really count” since it’s just a preseason award. 

“It’s not going to stop me from working hard,” King said.

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Head coach Chuck Priore has been there every step of the way for King’s career and has watched him grow into the player and man he is today. Priore acknowledged how important King is to his team, and complemented his abilities as both a player and a leader.

“I think if you talked about Tyler King last year as a redshirt freshman … he had a tremendous year and was still learning our defense,” Priore said. “He’s playing his best football. He’s improved on some of the things that he wanted to get better at. His instincts have been on point. Great kid, brings energy every day. He certainly is a main cog to us being successful.”

King has a lot to be proud of when it comes to his football career, whether it be a statistical achievement or a league award. However, King’s proudest accomplishment is making his parents proud.

“Just making my parents proud,” King said. “I know they love seeing me play. I know it means the world to them.”

Now with his third season officially underway, King will look to continue to make his family proud and help his team win. He will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 17 when Stony Brook takes on the UMass Minutemen for game two of their 2022 season.

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