All hail the King: D’Eriq King’s historic performance is about more than just numbers

Quarterback D'Eriq King (1) passes as N.C. State linebacker Isaiah Moore (1) pressures him during the second half of Miami’s 44-41 victory over N.C. State at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday, Nov. 6.
Quarterback D'Eriq King (1) passes as N.C. State linebacker Isaiah Moore (1) pressures him during the second half of Miami’s 44-41 victory over N.C. State at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday, Nov. 6. Photo credit: Ethan Hyman/ACC/The News & Observer

The numbers show the obvious: a completely dominating performance.

535 total yards of offense, 420 passing yards with five touchdowns to four different pass catchers, 105 rushing yards on 15 carries.

D’Eriq King became the first quarterback in Miami history to rush for 100-yards in a single game and the second quarterback to throw for 400 yards and five touchdowns in a game. He is the only FBS player with five touchdown passes and zero interceptions in a single game with multiple schools over the last 25 seasons, which he did with Houston in 2018. And, King now has three career games with five pass touchdowns and 100 rush yards, the most of any FBS player over the last 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stat & Info.

King had a statistically near-perfect night.

But what the numbers don’t show is everything else King did in Miami’s come-from-behind 44-41 win Friday night against NC State.

Down 41-37 with just under four minutes left in the game, King was called for intentional grounding on first & 10, backing the Hurricanes up to their own 8-yard line on second & 18. But King then delivered probably his best and most important pass of the entire season thus far: a 35-yard, perfectly accurate strike down the middle to Mike Harley.

Two plays later, King found Harley again, this time for a 54-yard catch and run, and the go-ahead touchdown for Miami.

“I was just super confident,” King said. “I had no doubt that we were going to win that game. I wanted a chance at the end to go down there and score.”

From down 10 to up three, King led his team — yes, his team — on a fourth quarter comeback in what was one of the most impressive performances by a UM quarterback ever.

Listening to coaches and fellow players speak post-game about the quarterback showed just how much King means to this program.

“The preparation he put in this week, the commitment he has to this team is exactly why we got that win,” tight end Will Mallory said about King. “He’s always poised and he just has that confidence in him, so it is very easy for us to follow him. Everyone had that confidence in his ability, we came in there with the confidence that we are going to go down there, we are going to score and we are going to win this game, I don’t think there was any question about that.

Defensive end Jaelan Phillips added, “I can’t even express how much D’Eriq means to this team. For him to keep his composure like that and to lead us to victory, I just have to give him the utmost praise. I can’t be happy enough that he is part of our team.”

And of course senior receiver Mike Harley, who had the best performance of his career with eight catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns, got emotional talking about King after the game.

“He means everything, y’all see it every Saturday, and we see it every day,” Harley said. “D’Eriq King man…I can’t say too much on it cause it’s too much. He’s just a great leader. He’s that guy. He’s that guy Miami needs.”

Harley texted King on the bus ride from the hotel to the stadium and told King that he loved him and “let’s go be great tonight,” King told reporters post-game.

If you’ve watched King play at all this season, one of the most obvious aspects about his game is his humble demeanor. He never celebrates, seldom smiles on the sideline and more than once, he’s given the flashy touchdown rings to his offensive lineman after he’s scored because “those guys deserve it.”

But King’s humility originates from his days of playing little league football when his dad, who passed away in February, was his coach.

“When I scored a touchdown and celebrated, he kind of got on me pretty bad,” King said. “Even since then, I always try not to get too high or too low. There’s always a lot of game left.”

No matter what happens the rest of the season, UM is lucky to have found not only a quarterback, but a human like D’Eriq King to be a leader of the program, even if it’s only for one year. His impact on the program and the players, in just a short amount of time, will last for a very long time.