King of the Volunteers?

What kudos can one offer Caleb King to qualify his immense talent as a running back? Well, you could say: He is one of those rare players virtually guaranteed to give both offensive and defensive coordinators heart palpitations every time he touches the football — the former out of sheer excitement, the latter out of utter anxiety.

Rated the nation's No. 3 running back as well as No. 3 in Scout.com's South Hot 100 list of prospects, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound, five-star Georgia native is a superb blend of speed, power and balance. As a junior at Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga., King rushed for 2,768 yards and 19 touchdowns. In January, he was voted the most valuable offensive player at the Scout.com national combine in San Antonio. He has since received some 70 scholarship offers, including offers from Notre Dame, USC, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Auburn which have his early interest.

"All I can say is that right now I am open and that I am looking at Georgia, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Southern Cal, Notre Dame, Florida and Tennessee," he told Jamie Newberg of Scout.com. "Tennessee is another school where I love how they run the football. When they are good it's because of their running game."

That argument is augmented by Tennessee's struggles on offense in recent years which led to a revamping of the Vols' coaching offensive staff during last offseason. While that problem had as much to do with the offensive line as the running backs, the fact remains UT hasn't had a tailback taken in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft since Travis Henry in 2001. That follows a period between 1994-2001 when six backs were taken in the first four rounds, including a total of two first round picks, two second round choices, a third round choice and a fourth round selection.

With his solid size, excellent strength, impressive speed and soft hands, King is a triple threat to run inside, outside or catch passes out of the backfield. He has the ideal height for a tailback and a frame that can easily carry 220 pounds without any reduction in his speed which is conservatively listed at 4.46.

"That is one of my slowest times," he told Robert Allen. "My best time is a 4.32 and I'm usually somewhere in the 4.3 range.

"I'm pretty much smash and move. I never stay in one place too long. I'm always moving. My best play is where I just stand four yards behind the quarterback, get the ball, and make my own decisions."

A sprinter for Parkview's track team who qualify for the state meet and was the top 100 meters runner in his county, King boasts a 320-pound bench press, 510-pound squat and a 36-inch vertical.

King's speed is even more disposable on the gridiron where his ability to stop, cut and accelerate have invited comparisons to Barry Sanders and Reggie Bush. He can turn a short pass into a big play in the blink of an eye or he can take a short route deep.

Tennessee has to hope for a good season to land King, but it doesn't appear he's in a hurry to make a decision. He appears on course to qualify and academics will weigh heavily into his decision.

"Well, first it's academics," he said. "I want to major in business... I think. Second, I am looking for the playing time opportunity and of course I would like to be the featured guy. The coaching staff and the atmosphere in the program and at the school is also important. Right now, it looks like a late (January) decision."

King's press conference announcing that decision will probably resemble a coronation.


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