As soon as Keshawn King committed to Virginia Tech as a 4-star recruit out of Orange Park, FL, the Hokies had hopes that he would make an early impact. Yet with the injury to Jalen Holston against Boston College, King’s time may have come even sooner than expected, at least to those outside of the program.
“Pretty much the team left everything open for me,” said King. “They guaranteed me that if I played hard and knew the assignment well, I’d be able to play.”
Even before Holston went down, Fuente made it clear that King would be part of a running back rotation that also included Deshawn McClease and Jalen Holston before his injury. That became apparent when King saw action during the very first offensive drive of the game.
As young as King is, Fuente and his staff have been careful not to overload him with new information. King said that as time goes on, Fuente is slowly adding more and more of the offense to King’s workload.
“It’s something new all the time,” said King. “You just have to learn it, you have to know it, and then you have to go and execute.”
Executing was something that King had no problem with at Oakleaf high school. In three seasons as a running back, he ran for over 4,700 yards and scored 62 rushing touchdowns. That included 2,017 rushing yards in his senior year alone, the main reason why King became one of the most hyped recruits in Virginia Tech's 2019 class.
When the Hokies first started recruiting Keshawn King, they were a little bit late to the party. King already had 13 other Power 5 offers by the time Virginia Tech extended one on May 16, 2018. He said that the persistence of the Hokies’ staff played a part in his final decision.
“They kept contacting me every way...they never let up on me,” said King. “That was one thing that stood out to me with them recruiting me at that point.”
Running back has been a position of need arguably since Fuente stepped foot in Blacksburg. The last time the Hokies had a true bell-cow running back who took the majority of the carries was probably in 2011 with David Wilson.
While King knew that the Hokies were most likely going to continue a rotation in the backfield, he was motivated by the idea of earning more and more carries. There’s something to be said for the fact that instead of going to a team that would be likely to make him a primary back right away, he chose the Hokies.
“That’s one thing that I do like about this program: it’s never a one man game, it’s everybody,” said King. “I do like the rotation...it gives everybody a chance to shine.”
By default, though, when one man goes down, the rotation gets thinner. With Holston out for at least “a little while,” guys like McClease and King are going to have to be ready for an increased workload.
“Obviously, I’m hurt about my brother [Jalen Holston] going down, and the team’s hurt about our brother going down,” said King. “But you’ve got to be ready when your name is called. When your name is called, you’ve got to know your assignment, you’ve got to know what you have to do. So I’m prepared for it.”
In the opener, King carried the ball 10 times for 33 yards. That number of carries was only one behind the team leader, Deshawn McClease, who picked up 32 yards on 11 carries, another indication that King is poised for a large role in the Hokies' backfield.
Many people around the Virginia Tech organization speculated that King would be getting a consistent 10-15 carries a game by the end of the season if not more based on some rumors and public praise of King. Instead, he’ll be getting that kind of load in the first few weeks of the season starting this Saturday against Old Dominion.
King is confident that he’s up to the challenge, and the coaches are behind him. After all, they really don’t have another option. As Justin Fuente said, the Hokies really don't have another option that they'd rather go to over King at this point.
“It’s kind of to the point where he better be.”