“Wow, would you just look at how fast that little guy is,” one gentleman behind me at the Spring Game said yesterday as sophomore Sihiem King ran for a touchdown, outpacing defenders and showing off some nice footwork skills.
I couldn’t help but feel somewhat like a proud mother at that point, hearing the praise and excitement in his voice about King’s performance.
Perhaps it’s because King and I went to the same high school in Georgia (Colquitt County High School) or maybe I just like seeing a fellow Georgian make good in the Bluegrass State. Whatever the reason, it made me proud to see King make a case for playing time yesterday.
While others in Kentucky’s crowded backfield might have the advantage of experience on King, Stanley “Boom” William’s elbow injury that has the junior sidelined this spring opened up an opportunity for sophomore running back to show Kentucky what he could do.
Saturday, King ran 11 times for 95 yards and a touchdown — including 84 yards on nine carries against the first-team defense. One thing is certain, the 5-f00t-9, 172 pound sophomore knows how to turn on the speed, as shown when running away from the starting defense for a 43-yard gain that was the longest of the day on the ground.
“It was just exactly what I was hoping to see,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said. “I put him with the one group for the first half and then the other group to just see how he would run. What you want to see is that you’re getting yards with both groups.”
Coach Mark Stoops also had praise for King yesterday, stating the running back was a complement to some of the Wildcat’s other backs.
“What I really like about him is he’s really got good vision,” Stoops said. “We know he has some ability in the open field, when he gets some space, and you saw that today — but I thought his vision on inside runs was really good to see. I just see growth.”
King said he was trying to get the crowd excited about football.
“I think I did everything I could,” he said. “It was my first spring, so I was very excited to be out there and show those fans what I got so they can be pumped up for the season. I was very excited going against the ones because I just wanted to see what I had.”
King, who is perhaps one of the smallest players on the field, said he isn’t worried about his size and views it as one of the hallmarks of his versatility to be used on the Wildcat’s special teams, as a slot receiver and in the backfield.
“To be honest with you, I love my size,” he said. “I’ve been small all my life, and if I wasn’t my size, I couldn’t do the things I can do – the cutbacks, quickness. Any running back can break tackles.”
Quarterback Drew Barker, who was named as the starter by coaches Saturday, said King has surprised his team.
“He was maybe my biggest surprise out of anybody,” quarterback Drew Barker said Saturday. “He was really making plays, making something out of nothing. You have to have guys like that in this league.”