Otis Yelverton's Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy team prided itself on playing "smash-mouth football."
But the Cadets' run-oriented offense and physical style of play didn’t stop Maryland-bound wide receiver Nigel King from having a big year.
“He did great. He led the team in receptions,” Yelverton said. “… [During one game] we ran a slant and go and the quarterback threw the ball a little behind him. And he just went up over the DB, caught the ball, still came down with it and scored the touchdown. That was probably the play I’ll remember the most about this season.”
Yelverton said the Cadets threw the ball about 12 times a game, spreading the ball around to King, a receiver headed to Wisconsin and an Oregon State commitment. King, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior, finished the year with 38 receptions for about 732 yards and eight touchdowns, helping Oak Ridge to an 11-0 record.“I’d say a lot of [our success was because of] our great defense. We averaged 42 points a game,” Yelverton said. “We run a West Coast offense. So basically, we used him pretty much the same way that the 49ers used Jerry Rice. We did a lot of slants, a lot of hitches, so matching him up against smaller DBs, which created havoc. He’s so strong, so that’s how we used him.”
Yelverton said King transferred to Oak Ridge from Wakefield High in Raleigh, N.C. for his senior year to shore up his academics and graduate early. Yelverton said the future Terp took care of business in the classroom and is ready to start college in January.
“If [former Texas Tech coach] Mike Leach does get the [Maryland] job, there will be more vertical routes,” Yelverton said. “When you look at what [Ralph] Friedgen did, there were more slants, hitches and digs. It’s a totally different offense, so I really don’t know. I think the biggest thing is, Nigel’s just kind of sitting back and waiting around to see who’s the coach.”
King’s size and speed reminds Yelverton of former Red Raiders and current 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. While King needs to improve his route running, Yelverton thinks he’s a college-ready prospect. He'll be sorely missed in Oak Ridge’s lineup next year.
“He’s a good practice kid, he doesn’t give you a hard time, he doesn’t talk back, he’s not disrespectful and he’s not arrogant or cocky,” Yelverton said.” You have receivers that are prima donnas, but he’s not that way at all. … It’s going to be harder to replace him because it’s hard to replace a kid that’s 6-3, 200 pounds that does some of the things he does. That’s the biggest thing we did, but we’ll try to replace him.”