-- Tight end Jeff King is one of those relatively quiet yes, sir, no, sir types who rocks only boats belonging to Virginia Tech opponents.
"Stays consistent," said his position coach, Danny Pearman. "Not too high when we win, not too low when we lose. Loves practice. One of those people [for whom] working hard has paid dividends and rewards."
The most impressive statistic attached to King is an obscure one the Hokies keep: money plays. He has 14 receptions this season -- and 11 of them have resulted in first downs. Among them are two touchdowns, including one last week during the rout of Florida A&M.
With one more touchdown, split end Josh Hyman has a slight lead over King in total money receptions. But King is the clear leader in money receptions on second and third downs. Six of his seven catches on second down have moved the chains. Same with four of his five catches on third down.
"Anytime you've got [tight ends] like that on your team, you go to 'em," said quarterback Bryan Randall, referring to King, senior backup Jared Mazzetta and promising redshirt freshman Duane Brown. Mazzetta and Brown have not been so prominent in money receptions as King, but also have shown a tendency for his flair for the spectacular.
Time and again, King makes difficult catches seem routine, leaping and twisting his body and holding onto the ball regardless of how hard he's being hit. King had four catches for 65 yards in the season-opening loss to No. 1 Southern Cal and a 24-yarder on second and eight against Wake Forest that helped fuel the Hokies' 78-yard drive for the winning touchdown with 2 minutes 10 seconds remaining.
"He always pulls us out of binds," said backup tailback Cedric Humes. "I watch films and wonder how many people could've made those catches."
Added backup quarterback Sean Glennon, "I've never really seen him drop a pass."
The 263-pound King almost always has played tight end, although he had eight sacks as a defensive end during his senior season at Pulaski County High. His footwork was enhanced in basketball, where he had more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds during his career at Pulaski. He also had a 54-foot shot put as a junior and made the National Honor Society.
At Virginia Tech as a redshirt sophomore last season, he started two games and had six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Like all his teammates, he was dismayed that such a talent-laden team (two players among the first 30 selections in the NFL draft and three among the first 45) ended with an 8-5 record.
"We were snakebit a couple of times, a call here or there," he said, choosing to ignore a defense that allowed 31, 34, 35 and 52 points in four late-season losses. "This year, we could have easily folded a couple of times but didn't. We're coming together, trying to get on a roll."
Seminole to Miss Game vs. Terps
Florida State tailback Leon Washington will miss Saturday's game at Maryland with a separated right shoulder. Washington, the team's leading rusher with 689 yards and a 98.4-yard average, was injured in the fifth-ranked Seminoles' 20-17 win Saturday over Wake Forest.
Sophomore Lorenzo Booker, who has split carries nearly 50-50 with Washington and averages just over 80 yards, will be the starter. The backups will be freshmen Lamar Lewis (7 carries, 13 yards) and Jamaal Edwards (6 carries, 23 yards).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.