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Monday, August 20, 2018

Football

Q&A: QB King has high hopes entering the season


D’Eriq King will enter his junior season as the starting quarterback after hopping around at different positions his first two seasons. | Richard Fletcher Jr./The Cougar

Sophomore D’Eriq King was a godsend for the Cougars last season, racking up almost 1,300 yards passing to go along with over 400 rushing yards and almost 500 receiving yards for his career. Playing everything from wide receiver to quarterback, King helped the Cougars to a 7-5 record.

His performance late in the season helped him earn the starting quarterback nod from head coach Major Applewhite. Now going into his junior season, the Cougar took time to catch up with the former Manvel High School star as he prepares for the Red & White Game on Saturday.

The Cougar: You drew interest from teams like Clemson and TCU, so what was your motivation for continuing your football career at the University of Houston?

D’Eriq King: I’m from Houston, so just staying home and playing for my city. I love my city. A lot of these guys I came in with since freshman year of high school, so these guys and how close we were persuaded me to stay here.

TC: The team essentially quarterbacked by committee last season. What was that quarterback carousel like, and how did it feel when you finally got that starting nod?

King: It was a competition but me, (Kyle) Postma and (Kyle) Allen all liked each other, so we were all cool. I just kind of stayed in my place and played receiver and when I got the opportunity, I tried to take advantage of it.

TC: You’re the No. 1 guy behind center heading into the season. What are the benefits for the team knowing who the starting quarterback will be all year?

King: I feel like it helps the team a lot, especially these receivers and the offensive line, getting close, getting connected, staying with one guy all the time, I feel like helps out a lot.

TC: Speaking of receivers, you had two guys graduate, Steven Dunbar and Linell Bonner. They accounted for over 60 percent of the receiving yards and half of the touchdown catches. What difficulties will you face trying to replace those guys?

King: Yeah, we have great receivers here, Marquez Stevenson, Courtney Lark, Keith Corbin, Kinte Hatton, Terry Mark. So we have a lot of guys that’s ready to step up, and I feel like when the season comes, y’all and everybody will see so.

TC: How do you feel being back at quarterback after playing several different roles on offense last year?

King: I’ve played quarterback my whole life, so I came here to play quarterback and I’m just excited for the opportunity. It’s why I feel like I play with a chip on my shoulder, just to prove to everybody that I can play quarterback.

TC: Your teammate, Ed Oliver, recently declared his intentions to enter the draft after this season. Have you given any thought as to whether you might declare after the season?

King: I haven’t given much thought to it. I’m just focused on the season.

TC: Have you set any personal goals for yourself for this upcoming season?

King: I just want to become a better leader honestly and go undefeated.

TC: The team had five total losses last year, but four of those losses were by a combined 16 points and none of those were by more than six. What are the keys to closing games out more effectively this season?

King: Just being more mentally prepared. Some of those games we kind of made simple mistakes that turned the game around, so we want to focus everyday in practice so we don’t make the same mistakes in order to win the game.

TC: You lost Coach (Brian) Johnson to the University of Florida and replaced him with Coach (Kendal) Briles. What impact has that had on this offense?

King: Both of those guys are great coaches. Coach Briles is just a great offensive mind, like came here and installed his whole offense, and I like it a lot.

TC: What can we expect from D’Eriq King this season?

King: Just a guy that’s going to go out there and compete every Saturday. Give my all, be physical and help the team win games.

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