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UK Football Player Preview: Sihiem King ready for bigger role in senior year

King is the perfect change-of-pace back for an offense that will rely heavily on Benny Snell.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats have potentially the greatest running back in the history of their program on the current roster with Benny Snell. The story of spring practice was the emergence of running back A.J. Rose.

Once thought (by me) to be the perfect complement to Benny Snell out of the backfield, the one running back being ignored in preseason discussions is senior Sihiem King.

#22 Sihiem King

Position: Running back

Measurements: 5’9”, 172 lbs.

Hometown: Colquitt, Georgia.

School: Colquitt County High School

Recruit Rankings: No. 80 running back in 2015

King wasted no time when he arrived on campus in 2015. He made an appearance in every game his freshman year, mainly serving as the primary kick returner. He returned 23 kicks for 498 yards during the 2015-2016 season.

He also had early success in the running game, accumulating 127 yards on 11 rushes and scoring one touchdown. He put together a really strong freshman campaign.

During the 2016 season, King’s saw a significant role reduction. While still seeing the field during every game, ht only returned 10 kicks for 213 yards. He also saw no increase in carries, rushing 11 times for only 81 yards on the season.

Although, there were promising glimpses of what he can do.

2017 was a big step forward for King, serving as the tandem back alongside Benny Snell. And he certainly got his chance. King was third on the team in both carries and yards, behind Snell and Stephen Johnson.

He had 79 carries for 375 yards and two touchdowns, showing that he has what it takes to be an SEC running back. He also showed that he can be a weapon catching the football with 15 receptions for 86 yards.

The 2018-2019 season brings a lot of questions for Sihiem King. His skill set certainly complements that of Snell as King is more of an edge runner that relies primarily on speed.

But with the rising stock of AJ Rose, could King see a decrease in touches like he did between his freshman and sophomore seasons?

Just as with every other player in this year’s offense, King’s role and productivity hinges primarily on who is selected as the starting quarterback. If Gunnar Hoak is named as the starter, King will be competing with Rose for carries when Snell needs a break. The would still be enough carries for three running backs, but Rose and King would be battling for their playing time.

However, Terry Wilson being named the starting quarterback would further complicate matters. As a running quarterback, similar to but perhaps more dangerous than Stephen Johnson, Wilson would be a weapon out of the backfield that would eat up carries that normally go to running backs.

Similar to the 2017-2018 season, if Wilson wins the quarterback job there would likely only be enough carries for two running backs. Last season, after Snell (262), Johnson (103), and King (79) nobody on the roster had more than 12 carries. There would be a similar spread this season if Wilson is under center, meaning Rose or King would be the odd man out.

Do you think Sihiem King has what it takes to earn carries this season? Or will he be relegated to a full-time kick returner?