Herd running back expects ‘nothing but greatness’
HUNTINGTON — On Friday during football practice, Marshall University sophomore Tyler King took a handoff to the left side, but instantly saw what was happening in front of him.
The defense had overplayed the line flow, leaving a gap back to the right side.
Without hesitation, King took a hard step through the line of scrimmage and exploded t hrought he middle of the defense, turning on the jets to get past the secondary for what would have equated to a 65-yard score had the play not been whistled dead once he got past all lines of defense.
That vision is what made King a valuable running back as a 2017 freshman and also has him pegged to break out in 2018.
Vision on the field isn’t the only thing King sees, though. King sees plenty on a broader scope this season for the Thundering Herd.
“Nothing but greatness,” King said with a grin. “We’re still going through fall camp, but winter workouts — everything before that — we’ve been going abnormally hard. It’s going to be good.”
King finished the 2017 season as Marshall’s leading rusher with 820 yards and seven touchdowns while splitting time with Keion Davis, who was just
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behind him at 812 yards and six touchdowns.
Both backs had success in the 2017 Gildan New Mexico Bowl, but it was one highlight run by King — a bowl-record 90-yard touchdown — that provided the lasting memory from the game.
When King thinks about that run, everything comes back to him as though it just happened. He remembers the handoff, the read and the explosive one-cut that left a Colorado State linebacker in his wake.
Even though it seemed like slow-motion as he replays it in his mind, it was anything but slow.
“It happened so quick,” King said. “As soon as I made the cutback, I was gone. From there, it was just like, ‘Man, I’m so happy.’ ”
The run not only capped a huge freshman season, it also propelled him into preparation for 2018 and continued to motivate him in fall camp that ended Saturday with a scrimmage.
“It was too big,” King said. “I was so happy for that big run. That makes me feel like I’ve got to come back this year and match that. Something crazy is going to happen this year, so it’s going to be fun to watch.”
One of the things King is most excited for the entire offensive line and backfield returns. King and Davis are set to run behind all five returning starters on the offensive front.
Friday’s big run in practice showed the feel King has for the linemen in front of him.
“They know the game, they’ve been in the fire at a young age,” he said. “A lot of people don’t recognize that. The biggest thing to me is the relationship we’ve got. They know me and I know them. They know Keion and Keion knows them. We already know what we can do. Now, we’ve got to handle our business.”
That business started in the weight room in January where King added some bulk to be able to handle the load he will face in 2018.
It is not an easy load as Marshall opens the season on the road Sept. 1 against a veteranladen Miami (Ohio) team. The Herd also has non-conference tilts against Power 5 foes South Carolina and N.C. State before diving into Conference USA action.
When the Herd returns to practice Monday the team will transition from preseason camp to game preparation for the RedHawks — something King said he’s waited several months for and stayed focused on during offseason conditioning.
“The strength coaches, they got us right,” King said. “Anything that gets thrown at us, we’re going to be ready. I’m ready for anything.”
“I was so happy for that big run (in the bowl game). That makes me feel like I’ve got to come back this year and match that. Something crazy is going to happen this year, so it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Marshall running back