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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Football

D’Eriq King redshirts, vows to return to UH in 2020


Senior quarterback D’Eriq King threw for six touchdowns and rushed for six more before deciding to sit out his senior season and redshirt. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Senior quarterback D’Eriq King threw for six touchdowns and rushed for six more before deciding to sit out his senior season and redshirt. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

After a 1-3 start to 2019, star senior quarterback D’Eriq King, with the support of head coach Dana Holgorsen and his family, announced he will sit out the rest of the season to redshirt and return to Houston in 2020.

King said his decision is what’s best for himself as a player and as a student, in a statement released after the news broke,

“After carefully thinking through this process with my family and coach Holgorsen,” King said. “I have decided the opportunity to redshirt this season gives me the best chance to develop as a player, earn my degree and set me up for the best success in the future.”

King, who threw for six touchdowns and two interception in 2019, said in a press conference on Tuesday that his choice to redshirt was one of the most difficult he has ever made, and that it wasn’t as sudden as it seemed.

“It’s the hardest (choice) I’ve made so far in my life,” King said. “It wasn’t a decision that I just woke up one day and wanted to do.”

The ball started rolling on the process, according to Holgorsen, after Thursday night’s 38-31 loss to Tulane in New Orleans, UH’s American Athletic Conference opener that was a must-win for new coaching staff.

Following the game, King, frustrated with the Cougars’ last-minute defeat at the hands of the Green Wave, sat down with Holgorsen for a meeting, which the former West Virginia coach encourages his players to have with him.

 “D’Eriq was pretty upset after the game,” Holgorsen said. “I brought him first thing Friday morning, and we talked. I presented every option that was available out there.”

“I want him to have every opportunity to do what he wants to do. It’s his life, and it’s his college career.”

With the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, which allows players to retain a season of eligibility as long as they appear in no more than four games, year, Holgorsen and King settled on the Manvel native sitting out.

While Holgorsen admits that UH’s use of the rule isn’t as the NCAA envisioned, he believes that the program is within its rights to redshirt King.

“The NCAA is probably upset with me, because this wasn’t the intent of the rule,” Holgorsen said. “But four games is four games.”

Holgorsen, who inherited the Houston program nine months ago, believes the extra year would be beneficial for King, but laments other players not having the chance to redshirt, mentioning UH’s youth standing in the way of an AAC title.

“When you get a team that’s old and mature and experienced,” Holgorsen said. “Something happens to those guys who are fifth-year seniors. We got way too many guys on this football team that are not in position to be fifth-year seniors, and that makes it hard to win championships.”

Along with the time for development that King said went into his decision, Holgorsen, citing his first stint with the Cougars from 2008-09 as offensive coordinator, admitted that Houston was likely to better in his second year as head coach than his first.

“Year two is always better,” Holgorsen said. “As good as we were in ’08, look at what those ’09 numbers were.”

For King, the consistency that Holgorsen said is crucial for quarterbacks has not existed during his time in Houston.

Since he arrived, the graduate of Manvel High School has been in the middle of several coaching changes, including four offensive coordinators and the hiring of Holgorsen in January.

And it has not been easy.

“Being here for four years and having four different OCs and three head coaches,” King said, “that takes a toll on anybody.”

Many players, Holgorsen said, will not have the chance for stability like King in their college careers, but the decision to redshirt 2018’s AAC leader in touchdowns responsible for is a step in the right direction.

“That sucks, and it’s not fair,” Holgorsen said. “We have a chance to rectify that.”

Shortly after King’s decision was made public, rumors of him transferring quickly came to light, and UH athletics director Chris Pezman dealt with the criticisms from fans and boosters angry at the possibility of losing the Cougars’ star quarterback.

Luckily for Pezman, the supporters calmed down after hearing King’s reasoning.

“Unfortunately, I’ve kept my number the same for the last 10 years,” Pezman said laughing. “Once they hear what the kids have to say, everybody settled down.”

Despite the rumor, King’s status — and commitment — to the University remains resolute.

“I’m staying here,” King said. “I’m here.”

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