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Football: Raiders' King sets two state records in senior season

Player of the Year

POSTED: January 3, 2008 5:02 a.m.
When he was still an underclassman, Habersham Central’s Tavarres King was referred to as "the best receiver no one has heard of" by his coach, Gene Cathcart.

It is safe to say that is no longer the case.

"Yeah, I don’t think so," Cathcart said last week with a quick laugh.

Even before his senior year, King had the attention of big-name colleges like Georgia, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Florida. Even though he committed to the Bulldogs in May, college scouts still found time to come to Raiders’ practices this year.

If that wasn’t enough, King’s performance in 2007 reached historic levels. He broke the Georgia state records for yards receiving in a season (1,641) and receptions in a season (100) while leading the Raiders to the Class AAAA state quarterfinals.

But looking back, he’d give up both of those records to be able to add the phrase "state champion" to his name.

"It was pretty disappointing," King said of Habersham Central’s 30-0 loss to Ware County to end the season, the same game in which he broke the records. "It was kind of a bittersweet thing for me, but for some guys, it was over completely. ... I’d rather not have that record and go out with a ring on my finger."

Not overly impressed with himself, King puts his historic numbers into his own unique perspective.

"It’s just one thing to add to my accomplishments," King said.

Something else he can add to his accomplishments is being named The Times 2007 Football Player of the Year.

That is only the latest in King’s "of the Year" awards. Last week, he was named Class AAAA Offensive Player of the Year by the Georgia Sports Writers Association and after the Raiders’ season-ending loss, he was named the 2007-2008 Gatorade Georgia Football Player of the Year.

He was also a finalist for the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year.

"It’s awesome," King said. "I’m just blessed. I’m blessed with God-given talent. It’s awesome to have people care about you."

With everyone telling him how great he is, it would have been easy for King to get a big head. Cathcart said it never happened.

"That was the most impressive thing about him, the way he handled all the attention," the Raiders coach said. "He’s one of the most humble players I’ve been around."

Cathcart recalled one instance in particular that symbolized King’s selfless attitude.

During the heaviest recruiting periods, other Raiders players got the benefit of residual attention from college scouts who were at practice to see King.

King had his mind made up early that Athens was going to be his destination, but he was worried that making that announcment would send the scouts away.

"He wanted to make sure the recruiting he drew in kept coming for his teammates," Cathcart said. "It was one of the most unselfish things I’ve heard from a player. ... He’s certainly been genuine and down to earth."

King credits his family for making sure he has a level head.

"My family, my mom, dad and sisters, have done a great job of keeping me at home," he said. "They keep me pretty humble."

King’s family has had that duty since he started competing in sports. Before high school, he was a basketball star and was convinced that his future was on the hardcourt.

Once he got to high school, however, King started leaning toward football.

"Things change," he said. "I happened to stop liking basketball in the ninth grade for some reason. I guess football just took over."

And King, in turn, took over the receiver spot at Habersham Central. He became a four-year starter for the Raiders and was the most explosive player on a team that has several Division I-A college commitments.

It wasn’t until the summer before his junior year that King became aware of just how much potential he had.

After attending some football camps and combines, it became clear that King had a future in football.

"I was like, ‘Wow, I’m kind of good at this,’" King said. "That just opened my eyes."

It also opened the eyes of every college coach and scout in the Southeast. It was after that summer of camps and combines that he started receiving calls and text messages from the Tigers, Bulldogs and Gators, just to name a few.

The Bulldogs in Athens were the perfect fit for King. He committed to Georgia well before his senior season and has not waivered an inch on that commitment.

King says that the program Georgia coach Mark Richt has built obviously succeeds on the field, but it is off the field that impressed him most.

"They are doing things right there," King said. "They are the only school I visited that does character education. On top of being a good football player, I want to be a good guy and that’s going to help."

King said that Georgia’s character education classes usually center around discussion about one hypothetical situation.

"Most colleges don’t enforce being a good man, becoming a man," he said.

The expectations for King from the Bulldog faithful has already started to grow with all the attention he received this year. Georgia has several promising young receivers joining the roster next year with King, five-star recruit A.J. Green from South Carolina and redshirt freshman and East Hall graduate Walter Hill.

Cathcart believes his senior receiver is well on his way to getting some early playing time in Sanford Stadium.

"Mentally, he’s very prepared," the coach said. "Physically, he’s ready, but he needs to get stronger, get a little bit more upper body strength."

King is anxiously awaiting suiting up in the red and black, but he knows all the attention, awards and accomplishments he has now won’t get through the hedges at Sanford Stadium.

"It’s like that anywhere you go, middle school to high school, high school to college, college to NFL," King said. "You are always going to have to start right back over. It’s no big thing.

"I’ll work my way up just like I did here."



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