HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The University of Houston Cougars are gearing up for another football season. A 7-5 2017 season unfortunately concluded with a 33-27 Hawaii Bowl loss to Fresno State. Most who watched the Cougars last season noticed a position that held much controversy: quarterback.
Kyle Allen, Kyle Postma and D'Eriq King all saw time under center last season. Allen and Postma had control of the quarterback position for the first seven weeks, with King only throwing two attempts in that time frame. He was the odd man out as the coaching staff was lasered on Allen and Postma.
All of that would change on October 28, though. With the Cougars still struggling at the quarterback position and desperate for answers, Applewhite turned to King as the Coogs were facing off against the University of South Florida, undefeated at the time. King would finish the game with 137 passing yards and 1 TD to go along with 83 rushing yards and two more touchdowns, ending South Florida's perfect 7-0 start.
From there, the Cougars had consistency at quarterback. King would lead them to a 3-2 record over the final five games of the season, throwing for over 250 yards in three of them.
As the new school year and football season approaches, there are no questions about who will be under center for the Cougars. Applewhite recently said during a media session that King will take all reps with the starters, with the offense focused on running as many plays as possible.
Kendal Briles, son of former Baylor coach Art Briles and a University of Houston alum, was hired as the Cougars' offensive coordinator in January. He has also made tempo a priority and feels King is the right man to lead a high-octane offense.
"Every day is the same with him," Briles said, adding that King is a great ambassador for the university and a strong leader. Briles also said King is a great learner, making that with the addition of God-given abilities a recipe for success.
Briles said there a few characteristics of King's game he can't wait to instill in the offense, but won't reveal the details yet. While referencing to King being more of a reserved person in terms of personality, Briles said one characteristic that can't be hidden is his competitiveness. He said he loves King's body language and how it never changes regardless of the situation, which can be contagious to his teammates.
King said he is excited to lead Briles' offense. He alluded to Briles having success at former schools (Baylor, Florida Atlantic) and is confident in the game-plan. He said one characteristic he and Briles share is aggressiveness, looking to make deep plays and that his mobility adds another dimension.
When it came to the offseason, King said it was different than others because of the situation. King is now the quarterback going forward after spending time at other positions such as wide receiver. He said it has benefitted to have sole focus on only one position.
One former Cougar player who King has communicated with is Greg Ward Jr. , who was with the program from 2013-16 and is now with the Philadelphia Eagles. Both had similar situations at Houston, playing wide receiver for a brief stint before moving to quarterback. King said Ward Jr. has told him to be himself, focus on being the best leader possible and work hard every day.
King is a Houston native, playing at Manvel High School and having quite the career there. He finished at Manvel High with over 10,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing. He ultimately decided to stay home instead of accepting offers from schools such as Baylor, Clemson and Michigan State.
"I think Houston's the best city in the world," King said.
When it comes to leadership characteristics, King can be a little different. He said is not the "screamer" like some, being more reserved, but still pouring into his teammates.
"I'm more of I'm going to show you how to do it and I'm going to work as hard as I can and just try to get my guys going," King said.
The Cougars begin their season on September 1 against in-town Rice. Other non-conference games include Arizona and Texas Tech before beginning conference play on October 4 against Tulsa.
A new opportunity: D'Eriq King ready to lead Cougars offense to new heights