Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor
At the top of every list of leaders in receiving across the Northeastern Conference, you will find one name: Chris King.
King, a junior wide receiver from Crofton, Maryland, attended high school at Dematha Catholic, the same school as NFL running back Brian Westbrook. He was one of the top receivers on the team and attracted the attention of the Duquesne football recruiting staff. He accepted his first offer from Duquesne to put on the Red & Blue every Saturday.
When King arrived as a freshman, he showed he was willing to do whatever it took to help the team win by playing on special teams for all 11 games of his freshman season.
King knew he had to earn his role on the team and he did.
“It’s a lot of competition. Everybody was a big player on their high school team. You have to work hard to win a spot,” King said.
Head coach Jerry Schmitt has noticed.
“He is getting rewarded for his hard work,” he said.
At the same time he enrolled at Duquesne, there was another player in his recruiting class who would have an impact on his time with the Dukes: quarterback Dillon Buechel.
“Dillon and I are definitely friends and it’s a partnership. We came in at the same time, we were in the same recruiting class, so we knew each other well,” King said.
Buechel also appreciates the relationship.
“We are the same age and we came in together, we work on the same things over the summer … That gives me all the confidence I need in Chris,” he said.
That friendship has blossomed into one of the most feared quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the NEC. King has caught 46 passes from Buechel this season. The two have combined for 9 touchdowns, five of which were passes of 20 or more yards.
King says that the big plays are fun, but the success stems from his attention to detail and focus on improvement.
“It’s about being focused on making the play at hand. I don’t look to make a big play I just try to focus on the small things and let the big plays come to me,” King said.
The big plays have come, most recently in Saturday’s loss to Sacred Heart. With his team needing to build its lead, King caught a pass over the middle. It looked as though the play would go for 20 yards before a safety would make the tackle. King, however, turned on the burners and motored by the safety to the end zone.
By the time anyone got close to him he saw open field in front of him. No one could stop King’s 6-foot-1, 196-pound frame from running for 58 yards into the end zone to put his team up by 20-7.
Buechel was not the one who completed that pass on Saturday, as redshirt sophomore Ryan Egolf was forced into action early in the first quarter. Buechel suffered an upper rib injury in the first quarter of the game, and so Egolf saw his first live game action of the season in relief of Buechel.
King knew his responsibility was to make sure Egolf felt comfortable running the offense.
“We definitely had to help him out because this is his first game experience. It was just dependent on all of us playmakers and teammates to give him confidence as the game went on,” King said.
Egolf did not target King right away, but as the game progressed the two connected more.
“He was a little nervous and jittery in the beginning. As soon as we started making plays he got in his rhythm and we started clicking together,” King said.
Buechel felt like King’s impact helped Egolf get rolling,
“I think that big play really gave him the confidence he needed,” Buechel said.
King is one of the top receivers in the NEC. He averages 7.14 catches per game, the most in the NEC. He already has 915 yards on the season through 7 games, 393 more yards than the second best in the NEC. His 11 touchdowns are the most in the conference by any player at any position. Buechel and King might be the two best players in the NEC at their positions, and they get to play together every week for the Dukes.
King has the frame of a star receiver. But his stature and strength are not what make him great; it’s his work ethic. King works hard on and off the field to make sure he can be the best receiver he can be. His motivation is to help the Dukes win.
“It’s all about being a hard worker and a team player. You just have to fit the mold and everything else will come,” King said.
“He just works really hard at it. He is blessed with talent, but he combines it with a good solid work ethic,” Schmitt said.