VAUGHT: King plays like a 5-star player now

LaRod King was not a highly-recruited player or one with a lot of stars attached to his name coming out of North Hardin High School.

Yet he's turning into a productive player as a true freshman receiver for Kentucky and that has caught the eye of UK senior running back Alfonso Smith, another in-state player who did not receive a lot of national acclaim during his prep career.

"I like his success because a lot of times it is not all about the (recruiting) stars or what recruiting analysts say. It is about what the guy has. You might come in under the radar and still be a good play. If a guy comes in and he is coachable, anything can happen and LaRod is proving that. He's a tough, talented player who is really going to make a name for himself here," Smith said.

He made two key catches in last week's win at Vanderbilt after making one of UK's best catches of the season two weeks earlier against Mississippi State. And his one-handed touchdown grab last night against Georgia was an integral part of the comeback victory. The 21-yard snag was the first touchdown of his career.

"He is going to be a really good football payer. He is another underrated kind of recruit that came in without as much attention as some but has big-time skills and is learning how to play at this level pretty darn fast for a freshman," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said.

Assistant coach Joker Phillips says King worked his way into the playing rotation.

"LaRod shows up every day to work and doesn't complain. He is a tough guy and I think that is going to help us. As you have guys go down, LaRod King gets more reps. They come back and he has closed the gap. Now other guys go down, and he closes the gap more. Now there is not that big a difference and we think a younger guy with more reps is going to pass the other guy by. That's why we have to play him and play him more, especially when he makes plays like he has been," Phillips said.

King has tried to downplay his recent accomplishments.

"Things are coming along well. Things are starting to click and work out better," he said. "I don't know if I will play more these last two games or not. That is Joker's decision. I just come out and practice every day and see how I do and that determines how much playing time I get."

He insisted the hit he took against Mississippi State was no worse than some he had taken in high school even though it was the biggest hit he has taken at UK.

"I just told Morgan (Newton) to throw the ball and I would get it no matter what, so I had to catch it. I used to play quarterback in high school so I know what it is like as a freshman to have that pressure on you. We told him we had his back if he threw the ball," King said. "I feel pretty comfortable in the offense. I might still struggle on my blocking and getting the right depth in my routes, but I know I can catch the ball."

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