His first season in 2008 suddenly seemed like a few decades ago.
“I’ve been here about 30 years,” King joked.
The fifth-year senior receiver has grown from a 158-pound freshman to quietly the Southeastern Conference’s active leader in receptions (100) and receiving yards (1,769).
On an offense that two years ago had top-five NFL Draft pick A.J. Green and playmaking freshman Malcolm Mitchell last season, King has been good, but can he be great?
His showing in Georgia’s 45-23 win over Buffalo last week might have gotten lost in the shine of tailback Todd Gurley’s big day, but his six catches for 117 yards and a touchdown picked up where he left off in the Outback Bowl when he had six catches for a program-record 205 yards and a touchdown.
“We need him to be an elite receiver,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “We talked about it a lot in the preseason about his consistency and we need him to pick up where he played at the end of last year and be very productive for us this whole season.”
There were eight months between games, but King put together back-to-back 100-yard receiving games for the first time in his career.
“I need to be more consistent in everything that I do,” said King. “That’s huge with me if you can’t tell being consistent: route-running, blocking. I feel like I just need to be a complete receiver, a total package, not just a deep threat. I need to be able to go underneath. I feel like I can do that.”
The 6-foot-1 and now 200-pound King is certainly a vertical threat that defenses, such as Missouri’s on Saturday, can’t ignore.
After quarterback Aaron Murray misfired on some deep balls against Buffalo, he connected with King on a 63-yard score.
“Deep threat, I don’t know if there are that many receivers in the country that are able to really get on top of a defense like he is,” Murray said. “He’s a very talented receiver. And the great thing about T.K. is he does a great job of stepping on toes. He really makes a DB flip his hips. If he does it fast enough, he’s by him.”
There was the 80-yard touchdown against Michigan State in the bowl game, a 63-yard touchdown against Florida in 2010, a 50-yard scoring grab against Arkansas in 2009.
“He can run,” receivers coach Tony Ball said. “Looking at him, you wouldn’t think that he can, but he has really good speed.”
“He’s really good at double moves,” receiver Marlon Brown said. “If you’re on an island with T.K., good luck, man, that’s all I’ve got to say. Good luck.”
Ball has challenged King, who took a medical redshirt in 2008 after sustaining an ankle injury against Arizona State, to be more consistent not only week to week during the season, but day to day.
“The challenge has been just in his preparation, doing the little things,” Ball said.