Miami Hurricanes: Quarterback D’Eriq King has become Miami's version of Clemson's Trevor Lawrence

Tom D'Angelo
Palm Beach Post
Miami quarterback D'Eriq King, throwing against Louisville during the Hurricanes' 47-34 victory last month, drew praise from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

Trevor Lawrence is not the only quarterback playing in Saturday’s lone Top 10 matchup who has not thrown an interception this season. He’s not the only one to have completed more than 67 percent of his passes, or the only one who can beat you with his legs.

And he’s not the only one among the top five players with the best odds of winning the Heisman Trophy.

While the spotlight shines brightest on the Clemson quarterback who has become the face of college football, Miami is very happy with its version of Trevor Lawrence.

After all, nobody has meant more to the Hurricanes’ resurgence than quarterback D’Eriq King.

“He can do it all,” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who could have been talking about either quarterback. “There's really nothing he can't do. He can make all the throws and when he takes off, he's a running back and that's the mindset he has, and you better have your big-boy pads on.

“He's a dangerous player.”

King knows when No. 7 Miami (3-0) and No. 1 Clemson (3-0) kick off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Death Valley, the only time he and Lawrence will be on the field together is during warmups and perhaps a postgame greeting.

But nothing draws bigger comparisons and more hype than when two stud quarterbacks are in the same game. And King, who along with offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, has completely transformed Miami’s offense, knows the traps of a marquee quarterback showdown after opening last year against Oklahoma and Jalen Hurts when he was at Houston.

“You got to go out there and be yourself,” King said. “You can’t press and try to do too much because that’s usually when things go bad, especially on the road.”

Hurts accounted for six touchdowns in Oklahoma’s 49-31 thumping of Houston last season, throwing for 332 yards and three scores and rushing for 176 yards and three more. He completely overshadowed King’s four scores, three passing and one rushing.

More:College football: Miami preparing not just for Trevor Lawrence’s arm, but his legs, in showdown with No. 1 Clemson

While Lawrence entered this season as the sure thing, the impact King would have on the Hurricanes’ offense as a graduate transfer was unknown.

But the season could not have started any better for King, who has led Miami to three wins, its two biggest and most impressive - at Louisville and home against rival Florida State - being offensive outbursts that were televised nationally in prime time.

King has thrown for 736 yards and six touchdowns while completing 67.0 percent of his passes. He’s had a game where he relied heavily on his legs (83 rushing yards and one rushing TD against UAB), on his arm (325 passing yards and three passing TDs at Louisville) and both (8.1 yards per rush, 267 passing yards against FSU).

“He’s doing the same things people are mentioning Trevor for,” said Hurricanes safety Amari Carter, the former Palm Beach Gardens High standout.

And even with those splashy numbers that now have King fifth with 10/1 odds to win the Heisman, according to BetOnLine (Lawrence is the favorite at 7/2), Miami coach Manny Diaz cites another way in which King is every bit as valuable to Miami as Lawrence is to Clemson: Leadership.

“He got a cool, calm demeanor about him, a quiet confidence about him that I think gives our football team confidence that every week we’ve got a chance to win if we protect him and do our job around him well,” Diaz said.

King won’t have much time to study Lawrence this week, not with his focus on Clemson’s defense, which is ranked 12th nationally. And he certainly will not be paying close attention to Lawrence and the Clemson offense while on the sideline Saturday; that time mostly will be spent talking with Lashlee. But as a fellow quarterback, he has had plenty of opportunities to watch Lawrence the last two years, whether in the playoffs following the 2018 and 2019 seasons, or this year as a member of the same conference.

“Trevor is a great talent,” King said. “He’s going to be the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft.”

One throw that stands out to King is from the Tigers’ season opener this year against Wake Forest when Clemson’s offense was backed up. “He kind of made a post throw and I was like, ‘Wow, this is a great throw.' "

Kind of the way King’s new teammates have reacted since he arrived on the Coral Gables campus.

“They know every day they are going to get his best,” Lashlee said. “He’s focused and he’s locked in. I hope that is becoming the personality of our offense because he’s our leader, he’s the guy everyone on the offense looks to.”