When coach Kirk Martin began the first two-a-days at Texas' Manvel High in 2013, he had eight or nine quarterbacks to pick through. Martin quickly realized there were only two real contenders.
One had just moved in. He was undersized, yes, but an electric runner and quick-trigger passer whose dad was already comparing him to Kyler Murray.
Martin had known the other one since middle school. He wasn’t as mobile, but he was bigger with a strong arm and accurate touch.
For the next three years, Martin considered them Manvel’s 1A and 1B. D’Eriq King and Kyle Trask.
“I knew I had something,” Martin said.
And now the state of Florida has it.
King’s arrival as a grad transfer from Houston has revived Miami’s long-dormant offense and elevated the Hurricanes to 17th in the country heading into Saturday’s College GameDay matchup at No. 18 Louisville.
Trask proved he was much more than a longtime backup when he starred off the bench for Florida last year. His return is a big reason why the No. 5 Gators carry realistic College Football Playoff hopes into next week’s opener at Mississippi.
Which means the success of the state’s season hinges on two quarterbacks from the same class at the same school, halfway across the country.
“In most people’s career, you don’t get one of those,” Martin said. “To get two in the same class is incredible.”
King edged Trask for the starting job and gained statewide acclaim in Manvel, a town of 12,600 people 25 miles south of Houston.
He attracted recruiters with his dazzling athleticism and helped lead his team to three consecutive state quarterfinal appearances. His 126 passing touchdowns broke Murray’s record for the most ever thrown in Texas' largest classification.
“There’s no telling how many D’Eriq would have scored had he been the 100 percent, full-time starter,” Martin said.
But he wasn’t. 1B was still part of the game plan.
Trask usually played the third and seventh series of every game, regardless of the situation. He deserved the playing time; he threw 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions over his final two seasons. Martin is still convinced that he could have broken records, too, had King’s running ability not made him the better fit for the offense.
For Martin, perhaps the most impressive part wasn’t watching the next-level stars develop their complementary skills. It was seeing how they competed — with grace and mutual respect.
Instead of sulking or snarling, they battled through their work. When King would lift a certain weight, Trask would try to top him with 10 more pounds.
“They both believed in themselves and knew that they were great players and knew they deserved to be the starter,” said Martin, now the coach at Colleyville Heritage High in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. “Neither one of them became antagonistic about it, ever. Neither one of them was ever sour about it. They were each other’s biggest fan.”
They still are. Trask called King a playmaker Miami should be happy to have. King said Trask is a “great dude” who made him better.
“Just being in the weight room with him every single day, on the field, during practice, pushing me to be the best I can be just because I knew I had a guy behind me that was really, really good, as well,” King said.
When the coronavirus shutdown sent everyone home this spring, the friends reunited to train at Select QB Athletics in Houston.
“It was kind of cool just for us to back there competing against each other like we did in high school…” Trask said. “It was really huge for us because we’re both playing big-time ball, and it was an opportunity for us to stay competitive and always try to still one-up each other through these little drills that we were doing back home.”
Seven years after they first met, it was still D’Eriq King vs. Kyle Trask.
The state’s 1A and 1B.
No. 17 Miami at No. 18 Louisville
7:30, Saturday, Louisville, Ky.