There are approximately 150 talented wide receivers vying for spots on just 32 NFL teams in the 2016 draft class. Each player has a different skill-set, background and mindset.
To make the NFL, though, these prospects must find a way to stand out. Most receivers do that with their reliable hands, exceptional footwork or precise route-running. For Duquesne senior wideout Chris King, it’s something much simpler – it’s his heart.
“I always like to talk about the heart,” King said. “Like you know, coming from a small school you already don’t get as much publicity as the bigger schools or anything like that, so I feel like sometimes they might be overhyped, and it’s more of just proving your worth.”
Although King didn’t go to an FBS football powerhouse, he can find comfort in the fact knowing that one of his idols, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, attended Central Michigan – another school not commonly associated with being an NFL prospect factory.
King started playing football in third grade, but it wasn’t until that same year that he made a strong push toward the NFL. He started making headlines in 2014 when he tallied over 1,100 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns in just 11 games, while averaging 16.6 yards per reception.
“Statistically, he has put himself in that range of traditionally great receivers that have come through this program,” Duquesne head coach Jerry Schmitt said. “As far as being a role model to our team, he is a great young man, an excellent student and a quiet leader who has helped us win a couple championships here and make it to the playoffs.”
As the 2014 accolades piled up, the interest skyrocketed. King was named to the 2014 Sports Network All-American Third Team as well as First Team All Northeast Conference. Due to his play on the field and these aforementioned honors, there were scouts from nearly every NFL team present at the Dukes’ 2015 training camp, according to King.
Currently, King ranks as the No. 74 receiver on CBS Sports’ prospect rankings and is projected to go undrafted. However, knowing there is plenty of work left to be done, he works out 12 to 15 hours per week at a training facility in Robinson Township amid other receiver prospects. He has also improved his diet by eating healthier foods.
Without a combine invitation, King must prepare for Duquesne’s Pro Day— his primary opportunity to impress the NFL scouts. In his final game with Duquesne he set career highs with 12 receptions and 221 yards receiving in the NCAA FCS Playoffs, leaving a positive lasting impression in the minds of the scouts and his head coach.
“We’re going to miss him a great deal here,” Schmitt said. “Not only his ability on the field, but his personality on our team. He’s been a great teammate and a great part of our locker room here at Duquesne.”
King desires to become a special part of a new locker room, but he isn’t in need of any extra motivation.
“Chasing my dreams, that’s really my inspiration," King said. "I grew up playing football, I love watching it and I just hope to continue my career. That’s what really drives me.”
Football is in King’s blood. His cousin, Herman Johnson, was a former NFL player himself. King grew up watching Johnson and his brother, Ed King, play the game, which served as his inspiration for him in his pursuit of the NFL draft.
King’s drive and his relentless heart help him stand out from the other 149 draft eligible receivers as he pursues an NFL roster spot.
“It would mean everything,” King said. “I think about it every day. Waking up at 6 a.m. every morning just trying to make it one step closer – just trying to make the dream happen.”