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King of all receivers

Raiders receiver closing in on state receiving record

POSTED: November 25, 2007 5:04 a.m.

MOUNT AIRY — Habersham Central senior wide receiver Tavarres King is aware of his statistics, but they are the least of his concerns at this point in the season."I really don’t focus on that too much," he said. "My mom does all that stuff."

In fact, were it not for his curious parents, the senior might not even know that he is approaching Georgia high school football history with every catch he makes.

"My dad was actually curious a couple of weeks ago," he said. "He looked on the internet and found some things out. ... I don’t think much of stuff like that."

According to www.ghsfha.com, a Web site dedicated to Georgia high school football history, King is 148 receiving yards from tying the all-classification state record for receiving yards in a season.

The Web site lists John Harris from Americus High as the record holder, setting the mark in 2000 with 1,581 yards. Through 11 games, King has 1,433 yards receiving.

The Georgia recruit could set the new record Friday when the Raiders play host to Cherokee High in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.

He is averaging just over 130 yards receiving per game this season. He caught 11 passes for 154 yards in Habersham Central’s first-round win against Marist last Friday.

But for King, helping his team advance to the state quarterfinals and beyond is paramount. Anything else is just gravy.

"That would be going out on top both ways, as a team and as an individual," King said. "That’d be awesome."

King’s numbers are as hard to ignore as the receiver is on the field. His potentially record-breaking season is no fluke, any coach or expert will tell you.

"He is just an overall good receiver," said Chad Simmons, a Georgia recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "He does all the little things he needs to. ... He’ll go the extra mile."

But not every great high school receiver has been able to have seasons like King is having.

It requires a combination of things for a player to re-write the record books.

His team

Habersham Central is not a one-player wonder. The Raiders’ coaches won’t let any defense focus solely on King and get away with it.

"We’re good enough to get the ball to other guys and get them some touches," Habersham coach Gene Cathcart said. "That’s been our big advancement this year."

King’s numbers account for less than half of the yards the Raiders have accumulated in 2007, which exceeds 4,000 yards. Behind one of the biggest offensive lines in Northeast Georgia, quarterback Bo Hatchett has completed 62 percent of his passes this season.

"Bo is the hardest working player on this team," King said. "Him having a cannon has helped tremendously."

King is also not the only target Hatchett has. Senior Josh Anderson averages 14.4 yards per catch and junior Zach Mayfield has 18 catches for 225 yards through 11 games. All told, the Raiders have six players with at least 15 receptions.

The Raiders also have a steady ground attack with senior running backs Robert Renshaw and Zach Chitwood. Renshaw has piled up 771 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground while Chitwood has chipped in with 657 yards.

"This year’s been different because of the people that surround me," King said. "I care about the game and they care and we care together."

His hands

A receiver with bad hands is as helpful to a football team as a quarterback with a bad arm. That is not something the coaches at Habersham Central have to worry about.

King has two of the best hands in the area and is making good use of them.

"Seldom to none," Hatchett said when asked how often King drops passes. "We don’t even focus on those because he usually makes up for them later."

Hanging at the end of a pair of extremely long arms, King’s hands envelop and crush the hands of an average man in a handshake.

Even against defensive backs that are taller than him, King is able to elevate and extend himself, playing beyond his 6-foot-2 frame.

"I’d say he has a wing-span of about 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8," Simmons said. "He has everything it takes. He is a tough person to cover."

Simmons estimates that King catches at least 95 percent of the passes that are thrown to him within reach. His 73 catches this year account for 45 percent of Hatchett’s completions.

His legs

King does more than just catch the ball and hit the ground. Defensive backs that don’t wrap him up on the first try often end up watching him sprint to the end zone.

"His speed and quickness are unique," Cathcart said. "His ability to go get the football sets him apart."

Ranked the No. 14 high school receiver in the nation by Rivals.com, King runs a 4.4 second 40-yard dash. Despite his skinny frame, he can break tackles and pick up yards by the handful after the catch.

His legs also allow him to run faster, crisper routes than cornerbacks and safeties are both used to and ready for.

"He’s the human highlight reel," Hatchett said. "You never know what is going to happen. ... There’s been a couple of times I thought he was going to get knocked out of bounds and I was getting ready to run over there and pick him up. All of the sudden he pops out of a pile a gets 5, 10, 15 more yards."

His head

Aside from having all the physical qualities necessary to go from the high school to college level, King has a smart head popping up between his shoulder pads.

Even after catching for over 1,000 yards in his junior season, King worked hard to improve his knowledge of the game and his position.

"Understanding the game more," King said of the difference between the two seasons. "Splits and alignments, small things like that. The finer points of the game."

A lot of that credit goes to Cathcart and receivers coach Jeff Wilson. Both have coached at the small-college level and recognized that King had all the potential to become a great receiver.

"He’s such a perfectionist, and that is unusual for a player with those talents," Cathcart said.

His attitude

In terms of NFL comparison, King is more Marvin Harrison and less Terrell Owens.

He is a team-first player, his teammates and coaches like him and he works as hard at practice as every other player.

"He’s willing to go beyond what most people expect of him," Hatchett said.

That attitude has his team rooting for him to break the record, willing to go out of their way to help him top the state list.

But King would rather make sure that each of his teammates get a piece of jewelry at the end of the season.

"Myself is definitely not more important than getting a rock on each and every one of their fingers," King said.



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