Sam Khan Jr.ESPN Staff WriterClose
- Covers Texas A&M and the SEC.
- Joined ESPN in 2012.
- Graduate of the University of Houston.
King posted on his Twitter account late Monday, “I’ve entered the portal I think it’s best for me and my family!”
The reversal of course for King, who played four games before announcing in late September that he would redshirt the rest of the 2019 season with plans to return to the Cougars in 2020, means one of the nation’s most talented quarterbacks is available. King graduated from Houston on Dec. 14, meaning he will be eligible to play next season regardless of where he lands. He’ll have one season of eligibility remaining as a redshirt senior.
In his Houston career, King accounted for more than 7,000 yards across multiple positions, including nearly 5,000 passing. His best season came in 2018 — his first as primarily a quarterback — when he accounted for 50 touchdowns, which was third-best in the FBS that season, and threw for 2,982 yards while rushing for 674. His 82 career touchdowns responsible for since 2016 is ninth among active FBS quarterbacks in that span.
Arkansas is a potential landing spot for King, sources told ESPN.com. New Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman recently hired offensive coordinator Kendal Briles — who spent the 2018 season at Houston with King — away from Florida State. A potential reunion between the two in the style of offense that led to King’s career year, plus a chance to play in the SEC — the conference that annually produces the most NFL draft picks — is an attractive option for King.
Multiple Power 5 conference programs are interested in King and have been anticipating the day he entered the transfer portal, sources told ESPN, so it is likely that King has several potential suitors.
The move, while not entirely unexpected from those in and around the Cougars, runs counter to what King and Houston coach Dana Holgorsen have publicly said in the past. When asked about the possibility of King transferring during a Sept. 24 news conference announcing King’s decision to redshirt, Holgorsen said “all indications are that he’s not going in the transfer portal.”
More recently, during a national signing day news conference in mid-December, Holgorsen took umbrage at a question regarding his certainty that King and other players who chose to redshirt in order to return in 2020 would do so (receiver Keith Corbin, offensive lineman Braylon Jones and running back Mulbah Car are among others who chose a similar path).
“I don’t know why you’d even ask that question after what I just said,” Holgorsen said. “I, obviously, feel pretty good about all those guys.”
Holgorsen earlier that day noted that he was pleased to look at a roster that would potentially have 24 seniors on it in 2020, including King and the aforementioned redshirts.
As recently as last week, Holgorsen and those close to him felt confident that King would be back. Houston began spring classes on Monday and King had submitted scholarship paperwork to attend school this semester, a source told ESPN.com, but such paperwork is non-binding.
King’s father, Eric, told ESPN on Sept. 23 that while returning to Houston was “absolutely” a possibility, the quarterback and his family would evaluate all their options.
On Sept. 24, D’Eriq King said: “I’m staying here. I’m here. If I wanted to leave Houston and go somewhere else, I could have. I think me being here is what I want to do and it’s the best opportunity for me. I don’t think anybody will reach out to me. Even if they do, they should know I’m staying here.”
He went on to say that day that he “never thought about transferring,” at that point.
The Cougars started 1-3 this past season before King and Corbin announced their redshirts, losing to Oklahoma, Washington State and Tulane. The team finished 4-8, marking the program’s worst record since 2004 and its first time missing a bowl game since 2012.
After King redshirted, the Cougars turned to sophomore Clayton Tune, who started six of Houston’s final seven games. Holgorsen’s son, Logan, a freshman, also started a game and appeared in seven. Both are returning in 2020, and in December the Cougars signed Sofian Massoud, a three-star prospect from Cypress Lakes High just outside of Houston.