D’Eriq King has announced that he will return for his 6th season of college football. King, the Miami Hurricanes starting quarterback in 2020, will be the obvious choice as starter heading into the 2021 season. The Hurricanes, who are slated to open the ‘21 season with the Alabama Crimson Tide, have just landed their biggest ‘recruit’ of the year.
"I love this team. I'm so glad I came here. I love the University of Miami."— GO ‘CANES! (@83_87_89_91_01) December 26, 2020
- D’Eriq King pic.twitter.com/5u6ISwZlyy
While King’s numbers took a slight dip from his last full season at Houston, he’s clearly light years ahead of recent Miami QB’s like Jarren Williams, N’Kosi Perry and Marsh’s favorite- Tate Martell. King threw for over 2500 yards while completing 63.5% of his passes and averaging 8.2 yards per attempt. His touchdown to interception ratio is 22:5 heading into the Cheez-It Bowl on December 29th.
Compare those stats to Perry’s last major playing time, where he averaged 6.6 yards per attempt while completing 53.5% of his passes. Williams had closer stats to King a year ago, averaging 7.9 yards per attempt and completing 61.2% of his passes. King also added a running element that Perry and Williams don’t have. King finished second on the ‘Canes in rushing with 520 yards and four more touchdowns.
But it’s not just stats that King possesses, it’s his leadership and presence ‘off the field’ that make him a quarterback and not just a passer. Miami hasn’t had a true quarterback since Ken Dorsey left for the NFL after the 2002 season. Since then it’s been a misfortune of guys behind center.
King is a mature, calming presence in a program that’s been a complete disaster for almost two decades. The disaster has had many captains- from the immaturity of head coach Manny Diaz’s 2019 campaign, the stubbornness of the Mark Richt Era, the ego of Al Golden, the in-over-his-head Randy Shannon years and the affable pushover Larry Coker- Miami has been needing this kind of leadership.
The last time fans even remotely heard reports of a player-led program was when Ed Reed worked the middle of the field all the way back in 2001. Since then it’s been antics, suspensions, disappointing play, and premature departures to the NFL from Miami’s players.
King shows that the culture might be on the mend. He’s an intelligent person, someone that’s seen how three head football coaches work, he’s been around multiple offensive coordinators and QB coaches, and he decided to stick around for another season in Coral Gables. The fact that lesser talents have “left early for the NFL” (more like to go pro in something other than sports) and now they’re sticking around shows that the field house might finally be one that people want to stick around and invest in.
College football fans have to hope that the COVID vaccine gets pushed out soon- and spring practices, recruiting camps, and workouts can get at least close to normalcy. That way King can be around multiple workout groups and position groups from January through the August start of the season. Whatever has been going on in certain position rooms, such as wide receiver, King can be there to lead them.
Bad football programs have no leadership. Good football programs are coach led. Great football programs are player led. It’s not just a cliche, it’s the truth. Just look at places like Clemson and New England. The Tigers thrive off Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence- two great leaders. The Patriots have collapsed without Tom Brady yet the Buccaneers are now playoff bound.
A quarterback is a leader, the guy who takes wins and losses on his stat sheet (sorry, Cam). Remember back to Tim Tebow’s speech after Florida lost to Ole Miss. Think about Tom Brady’s poise in the 4th quarter against the Atlanta Falcons. Dig back in your memory bank to “Joe Cool” Montana. Picture Ken Dorsey firing that touchdown in to Jeremy Shockey to beat the Seminoles in 2000. While throwers have a big arm, and passers have accuracy and a knowledge of the game, a quarterback adds that intangible leadership quality.
D’Eriq King is a quarterback, and probably a future head football coach. Houston’s obvious loss was Miami’s very obvious gain. But getting King back might be even more important than getting him to Coral Gables in the first place. The coaching staff didn’t prepare the young quarterbacks in Peyton Matocha and Tyler Van Dyke for the ‘21 season. Now they add Jake Garcia to the QB room and hopefully find a way to get whoever they deem the next best QB some real playing time next season.
This program has talent, I broke that down for you before. This is almost entirely Manny Diaz’s roster, now it’s time to see if the young head coach can develop talent in the weight room and on the practice field, and deploy it on the game field. With King returning you’ll see many players who would’ve left too soon in the past, likely return, too. However, without development, King being back for his final season means nothing more than another off-season championship for Coach Diaz.