He committed to one school (TCU) way back in 2015, then fashionably de-committed.
He committed to another school (Houston) as it fashionably touted its 2016 recruiting class.
He saw the head coach (Tom Herman) leave after one season, which was pretty fashionable.
He (King) proved fashionably versatile in a sport (among other sports) becoming more position-less.
He played two years for another coach (Major Applewhite), who got fired with fashionable haste.
Come late September 2019, he (King) ventured to the fashion vanguard, accepting his third coach’s advice to follow a new redshirt rule.
Come January 2020, he entered the fashionable transfer portal, announcing it fashionably by tweet during the national championship game.
In winter 2020, he transferred, the foremost fashion.
“Just playing with these guys for the first few weeks and getting a bye week, I think I have a better feel for what guys are good at,” he said this week in Miami’s media sessions. The quotation told of a quick-study necessity that, too, is fashionable.
So start with the transfer and work back.
Transfers grip the game as never before, their stigmas deceased and their pathways ever less cluttered. In the 2019-20 College Football Playoff, three of the four starting quarterbacks had transferred from other major programs, leaving 2021 NFL No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence as the only one of the four as a one-school throwback.
When LSU quarterback Joe Burrow stood in New York in December 2019 to accept the Heisman Trophy, that made it three straight Heisman winners who had transferred from one FBS program to another. Among the 82 Heisman winners before that, only two had transferred from another major school, Cam Newton (2010) and Felix “Doc” Blanchard (1945), the latter switching from North Carolina to Army after he signed up for the Army during World War II.
“He’s just a very consistent young man,” Miami offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said of King. “I mean, he’s the same kid every day … He’s so even-keeled. Again, he’s so consistent on game day. And you know, I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of putting him in position where he can just go play.” These days, the learning must speed up, especially when the coach himself has just transferred, as Lashlee did last winter from SMU.
Long before that, in late September 2019, Houston had fallen to 1-3 under yet another first-year coach, Dana Holgorsen. The Cougars had slipped there with a last-play loss to Tulane on a 53-yard touchdown catch by Jalen McCleskey, who in 2018 had used a new redshirt rule and had transferred, from Oklahoma State. The rule, installed mostly to help out athletes, allowed players to play up to four games in a season and then redshirt without burning that year of eligibility. Some saw Houston’s use of the rule with a senior quarterback as suboptimal. Others saw it as tanking on a season soured. Others saw it as clever fashion, which is often controversial.
Yet in part because the rule exists, here’s Miami at 3-0, trying to rediscover its true Miami with the 5-foot-11, 202-pound King throwing six touchdown passes with zero interceptions. In a 52-10 win over Florida State, he completed passes to 10 different receivers.
Excitement froths enough that the Miami-native coach, Manny Diaz, felt moved to say, “Number one, it’s still early,” and, “We still have a long, long way to go. And obviously the things that D’Eriq can do on possession downs makes it look the way that it looks.”
Houston, with games postponed and cancelled here and there because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, opened its season Thursday night at home with a win against Tulane, one year and change after Tulane helped send Houston toward a decision that would wind up helping Miami, in a sport too kinetic to follow anymore without a Twitter account.
King’s elongated path includes 2018, when he accounted for 50 touchdowns, running for 14, throwing for 36 (against a mere six interceptions), threw for 2,982 yards, rushed for 674 and caught one pass for 12 because why not. And it includes 2016 when, as a true freshman, he became the first player in 71 years of Houston football to do these three things in one game: catch a touchdown (48 yards from Greg Ward Jr.), throw a touchdown (15 yards to Steven Dunbar), and run a kickoff for a touchdown (99 yards).
So while he said this week, “I think we’ve got good vibes right now,” he also said, “To be honest with you, I’ve played a lot of college football so far (38 games). I know when it’s really good, there’s a lot of highs and everybody’s talking good about you, then one bad thing, it can all go downhill.”
He did sound older than 23.
His recruiting class way back when, after all, included defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Houston’s best-ever recruit and the Buffalo Bills tackle. “We made history,” Herman said of that class in February 2016. “We have signed the highest-ranked non-Power Five recruiting class in the history of college football.” Rivals ranked it a heady No. 41 in a country with a Power Five numbering 65.
Then the Texas job flipped open, and Herman went with it, his dismissed predecessor (Charlie Strong) going to South Florida. By August 2019, the national season would begin with a slapstick game in Orlando between Miami and Florida, who combined for 25 penalties and five turnovers even as it felt closer to 50. The state of Florida looked irrelevant again save for UCF.
Now No. 7 Miami (3-0) and No. 4 Florida (2-0) look promising. Now Jarren Williams, the Miami quarterback from that night, plays for a community college (in Kansas), a route Newton took (in Texas). Now Feleipe Franks, the Florida quarterback that night against Miami a mere 14 months ago, plays at Arkansas, having suffered an injury in September 2019 at Kentucky, which brought on Kyle Trask.
Trask, outstanding for Florida ever since, is that rare college marvel who always played backup in high school — in his case Manvel High, in the southern part of the burgeoning blob around Houston.
He played backup to — no way! — King, who began as a sophomore with a description that sounds so Texan — eighth-string quarterback — then wound up throwing 140 touchdown passes.
Clearly, the man is everywhere.