Unless you closely follow Texas high school football, you and I probably haven’t heard of Manvel, Texas. The Class 5-A Texas high school is located halfway between downtown Houston and the Gulf of Mexico.
College coaches are quite familiar with the Manvel Mavericks. According to the school’s athletics website, the Mavericks are the “most recruited Texas High School this decade” with 150 college football scholarships handed out in the past ten years. With that average, a senior football player at Manvel High School is quite likely heading to college with some type of financial assistance.
The Manvel Mavericks, a perennial playoff participant in Texas high school football, have lost only 18 games in the past ten years. I think it would be fair to say the program is the epitome of what you’d call a “football factory”.
A few years ago, the Mavericks were led into the playoffs behind three year starting quarterback, D’Eriq King. King, who stands 5’11”, was a dual threat quarterback and earned a full-ride athletic scholarship at the University of Houston.
D’Eriq King’s back-up quarterback in high school was Kyle Trask. The 6’5” 215 pound Trask looked the part of the prototypical quarterback and possessed a talented arm. Kyle was the Manvel High School team’s starter as a freshman, but he lost the job to King for his final three years at the school. Trask kept working hard and remained hopeful for a chance to shine in high school every season. However, that opportunity never came as both King and Trask graduated in the same year.
With D’Eriq King heading 20 miles north to play college football at the University of Houston, his high school teammate was not exactly a hot college prospect. Game film highlights for Kyle Trask were generally from blow-out wins featuring the big quarterback handing-off the ball to running backs during the final few minutes of Manvel Mavericks’ victories.
College coaches from smaller college programs such as Houston Baptist and McNeese State were quite interested in Kyle Trask. Most major universities, though, would be taking a huge risk by offering a valuable football scholarship to a young man who wasn’t able to win the starting job at his own high school for his final three seasons.
Enter the Florida Gators of the Southeastern Conference.
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier knew the reputation of the Texas high school and wanted to take a closer look at the towering back-up quarterback. The University of Florida’s quarterback play had been inconsistent for several years, and the coach saw something special in Kyle Trask.
The Gators signed Kyle Trask and, just like in high school, the young quarterback found himself in an all-too-familiar position. Trask was given the traditional freshman “redshirt” year (which gave him a fifth year of eligibility) as he spent more time watching the starters from the bench during his first few seasons in Gainesville, Florida.
Meanwhile, his high school teammate, D’Eriq King, was having early success in becoming the starting quarterback for the Houston Cougars by his sophomore season. After an injury marred his junior year, King returned for his senior campaign with a new head coach as the University of Houston hired former West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen beginning in 2019.
Very little has been publicly said about the relationship between King and his new head coach in Houston. However, D’Eriq King started the first four games for the Cougars last season and the team was faltering at 1-3 with a lot of tension swirling about the formerly successful football program.
D’Eriq King, the starting quarterback, announced that he was taking his “redshirt” year as a senior and, under NCAA rules, he would remain eligible to play college football for one more season. His biggest mistake was that he told the team and the press that he planned to return to Houston.
In late September, 2019, D’Eriq King said: “I’m staying here. If I wanted to leave Houston and go somewhere else, I could have. I think me being here is what I want to do and it’s the best opportunity for me. I don’t think anybody will reach out to me. Even if they do, they should know I’m staying here.“
It didn’t help the optics at the University of Houston after the Cougars inserted the new coach’s son, freshman Logan Holgorsen, into the quarterback slot during a few games last fall after King left the squad. The Cougars finished last season with an unexpectedly dismal 4-8 record.
After last fall’s semester at the University of Houston, D’Eriq King earned his degree. Would he honor his commitment to the school for next season?
Nope. On January 20, 2020, D’Eriq King announced that he was transferring to the University of Miami (Florida).
Needless to say, King’s escape to the state of Florida didn’t leave a good taste in the mouths of University of Houston football fans. In his first (and only) season at quarterback in south Florida, Miami is off to a great start and is ranked #7 by the Associated Press this week. They will take their 3-0 record to Clemson for a nationally televised game this Saturday against the AP #1 team.
Just a few hundred miles to the north, King’s old high school chum is finally getting his due at the University of Florida. Kyle Trask finally came in off the pine after the starter was injured in 2019 and has claimed the starting quarterback job for the Florida Gators.
Kyle Trask’s Gators are off to a fast start in 2020 as well. Florida is 2-0 and rated #4 this week as Trask has thrown for an amazing ten touchdowns in the first two games of 2020. The senior quarterback has gone from “Who he?” to a legitimate Heisman hopeful in his final year.
The two senior teammates from Manvel High School in Texas are both fifth-year college seniors. What are the chances that both young men from a small town in Texas would now be playing quarterback for two major college football programs in the state of Florida?
What are the chances that these two former teammates would be leading their respective college teams and playing well enough to be considered Heisman Trophy candidates?
Better yet, what are the odds that these two high school teammates could (perhaps) find themselves on the field later this season competing against one another for a chance to win a BCS national championship?
Hey, it’s 2020! If we’ve only learned one thing, anything is possible this year!