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Fitness for a King: Weightlifting gives Herd RB big gains on field

March 30, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON - During spring football’s first practice session Tuesday, Marshall University running back Tyler King took a hand-off through the hole and exploded untouched for a long gain that was whistled once he broke away.

On his way back to the line for drills, he stopped to chat with running backs coach Pepe Pearson for a minute.

“Oh my God. I feel a little too explosive,” King said, beaming with a smile. “It’s scary. I remember I had a long run in practice and I ran to (Pearson) and said, ‘Coach, I ran a little too fast. I’ve never been that fast before.’ That weight room got us right.”

King was one of the Thundering Herd players seeing firsthand this week how the offseason weightlifting program of strength and conditioning coach Luke Day translates to gains on the field.

The sophomore speedster is listed at 5-foot-11, 193 pounds, but head coach Doc Holliday said the updated information showed King’s gains as of late.

“The young running back, Tyler King, he was 200 pounds the other day,” Holliday said.

The key for King is gaining weight to sustain hits while not losing the explosiveness that was present during his freshman campaign.

King said making gains the right way is a two-part procedure, based on the plan that Day’s staff set for him and the individual’s mindset to get better each day.

“Coming off of last year a lot of guys that needed to make gains, we did that, thanks to the strength staff,” King said. “They got us right and everything was straight business. When you come to the weight room, that two hours is straight work and it got us ready. That’s why today’s practice was live. It wasn’t sluggish or slow. We were into it and we were ready.”

King’s gains are especially notable after a first season when he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team. King had some memorable moments in that freshman campaign, in which he finished as Marshall’s leading rusher with 820 yards.

King’s 90-yard touchdown run in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl was the longest in bowl history and put an exclamation point on the strong season.

After the 2017 season began with King missing action because of an infection in his leg, the Fort Meade, Florida, native got up to speed quickly, emerging as a major cog of the two-headed monster in the backfield with veteran Keion Davis and celebrating a breakout game against Middle Tennessee.

In the Herd’s 38-10 road win in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, King produced his own personal highlight tape with a pair of runs - one when he hurdled a defensive back on the outside for a big gain and another when he made three one-cuts before breaking to the outside for a 15-yard touchdown run.

That was part of a 129-yard, two-touchdown performance that put the freshman on the map to stay.

With that explosive nature already present from last year, King hopes to build on his freshman performance and continue to open more eyes around Conference USA.

If this week’s practices are any indication, that might include his own.