Prior to September of 2017 only the most devoted Texas Tech fans knew who Tre King was. He did not join the team until right before training camp in August of 2017, and after his sophomore season at Hutchinson CC in Kansas was stopped short due to injury, not one P5 team had any interest in King. His journey to Tech has been well documented, as he took a 22 hour bus ride from Wichita, Kansas to find his way to Lubbock.
His first touchdown as a Red Raider came in the 2017 season opener vs. Eastern Washington, however his true breakout game would come three weeks later vs. Houston, when he had a 98 yard performance. He ended up starting five games in conference play, and became a great alternative while Justin Stockton was injured throughout Big 12 play. Games vs. Oklahoma and Kansas State were huge towards showing his value as a leading back. His 113 yards vs. Oklahoma would end up as his career high, and his performance came against a top 10 team on national television. He ended the season with 131 carries for 623 yards and five touchdowns (4.8 YPC). He tallied 727 all purpose yards for the year despite only starting five games.
His 2018 season was not what many had anticipated, which was due to a variety of reasons. Da’Leon Ward returned from a redshirt year as the #1 back, and whenever he was healthy was leaned on as the primary running back despite comparable stats to other backs. Ta’Zhawn Henry emerged as an exceptional scat back, which meant that in games like TCU and Kansas, Tre was forced into splitting carries in games where he otherwise would’ve been the lead back. Lastly, a nagging knee injury limited Tre to only six games, and throughout the latter portion of the season it seemed like Coach Kingsbury was extremely cautious with the playing time King got.
King finished the season with 160 yards on 40 carries, which looks bad on paper until you realize that 75% of his production came in the only games he started. His season was not without highlights, as he put up a 60 yard game and was crucial in an upset win over TCU without Alan Bowman. Tre also absolutely killed Caden Sterns, which might be the best run any Tech running back has had in the last few years.
- King is an elusive runner, and his first cut is extremely quick for a RB of his size.
- At 5-11, 190, Tre has the prototypical size for an NFL back. If he adds a bit of muscle to get to around 205 or 210 Lbs it puts him in range of backs such as Alvin Kamara and Joe Mixon, which are players that could fit King’s archetype as a runner.
- The power King runs with is not exactly common among backs with his size and agility. For a player trying to fight his way up the depth chart (which is what King projects to do) having versatility is crucial.
- Tre King has deceptively good hands. He only had 48 receiving yards in 2018, however when he was forced into a lead role in 2017 he had five straight games with 2+ catches. His value as a receiver will not make him purely a receiving back, however it could increase his odds of sticking in the NFL
- King did not reach 200 carries in his D1 career. In a running back class with a lot of players that have many miles, it should be a good thing for Tre. Chris Carson had a relatively similar situation to Tre in 2017 out of Oklahoma State, as he never started a full season in his career. He got drafted in the 7th round and is now a top 10 RB in the league
Two areas of concern:
- Durability. King has only played an entire season one time in his four years since high school. His final season at both Texas Tech and Hutchinson CC were riddled with injuries, and in 2015 he only appeared in eight games.
- Straight line speed. While King is a very agile runner with power, he does not have the breakaway speed that the top players in his size/style archetype possess. This isn’t a huge weakness, as Tre’s game is not fit to be a boom or bust back, but it might limit his upside to certain franchises which look for guys in the 4.4 or low 4.5 40 yard dash time.
Potential Team Fits:
The Cardinals need a second back to spell David Johnson, and with Tre’s familiarity with Kingsbury’s system could be an advantage.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have struggled at running back over the past few years, with Doug Martin failing to be consistent and leaving and Ronald Jones not living up to the hype. King could earn a roster spot simply by beating out a few mediocre backs.
With Frank Gore continuing to age and potentially retiring at some point, Miami will need to eventually add a third back. Kalen Ballage tortured Red Raider fans and is now developing under Gore, however there are still questions about if Kenyan Drake can be a lead back. King’s versatility could keep him on the roster short term in a shallow Miami backfield.
Projected draft range: 6th round-UFA
While I am among the biggest fans of Tre King, I do not see him getting many looks in the draft due to the lack of college production. I do think he could sneak into a late round pick with a strong pro day and good individual workouts, as the last two rounds vary wildly based on how a team likes a certain player. If a team drafts Tre it would not be without merit, however there is a decent chance he goes undrafted. While Chris Carson is a big success story recently as a player overshadowed in college drafted late, many teams draft running backs on instant production. Regardless, King will almost certainly get a training camp invite, and should have a realistic chance to crack a roster in the preseason. He’s been in this situation before, as he managed to jump two scholarship running backs at Tech in 2017 to become the primary backup (and sometimes starting). One thing is for certain: Tre King’s story indicates that he will not give up on himself, regardless of how other teams view him.
Where do you see Tre ending up? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!