LEXINGTON – La'Rod King has made several big plays in his career. The Kentucky wide receiver doesn’t expect that to change in his last season with the Wildcats.
“I’m just ready to play ball,” he said. “When the ball is in the air, you have to make the plays.”
At the same time, King realizes the offense isn’t centered around his own individual skills.
“It’s not like, you have to throw me the ball, I want this, I want that,” he said. “I’m not a selfish player at all. If I don’t score once, but we win every game, I’m cool with that. I’m all about winning. At the end of the day, it’s not all about me, it’s about the team.”
King, the school’s leading returnee at the wide receiver position, ranks eighth on Kentucky’s all-time list in touchdown catches with 13 and 19th in receiving yards with 1,218 yards. He led the team in catches (40), receiving yards (598) and touchdowns with seven during his junior campaign.
Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips likes having King back, giving the Wildcats a potent and experienced receiver.
“La’Rod King has been a player in this program for a long time,” Phillips said. “He has shown flashes (of brilliance) from the time he walked on campus. He was a guy that made plays as a true freshman — on the road at Georgia and at Auburn — he’s done it for a long time around here.”
In addition to his athletic skills, King also brings experience as one of the team’s top leaders on and off the field and will continue in that role in his last season with the Wildcats.
“There’s not a limit on leadership, you just have to do it,” he said. “You just have to show the players how much you care about them, see how they’re doing and if they are catching onto to the plays and make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do, because when a coach is not looking, it’s easy to slip and get comfortable. You have to keep competing.”
King doesn’t know who will be Kentucky’s starting quarterback will be, considering Morgan Newton, Maxwell Smith and newcomer Patrick Towles will be battling it out during fall workouts to determine the team’s starter in the season-opener on Sept. 2 at Louisville. King said choosing between the three players will be a “key.”
“At the end of the day, all eyes are on the quarterback,” he said. “You have to make them look good. The hardest thing will be working with all of the quarterbacks to see which one is going to start. You never know. When the coaches make the final call, in my mind, I will have work with him 24-7, work with him, eat with him and watch film with him.
“You just have to be around him all the time and figure out how he’s thinking and how he wants the offense to be, because at the end of the day, when the ball is in his hands, the coaches can’t play for him, he’ll have to make the decision for himself. As receivers, we have to work with him 24-7.”
As for the younger receivers, King said it’s a matter of “breaking it down play-by-play” and learning the team’s offensive schemes as quickly as possible.
“As long as you know the playbook, you’re good,” he said. “The talent is there and football is 80 percent mental. You have to think, read the defense, read the corner and know what play you have and how you’re going to run your route.”
Although the starting quarterback has yet to be determined, King said the offense unit is “going to be great.”
“We’re competitors,” he said. “The talent is there, but it’s more mental than talent right now. The talent is tremendous. It all changes when you have to think about what you’re doing instead of just doing it. The quicker they pick up the playbook, the quicker they play and I’m excited.”
As for the team’s 5-7 finish last season, King said “it’s in the past” and he’s looking ahead.
“I’m looking forward to the future,” he said. “The thing is, I’m moving on to (this) season.”