Even now, on the fringes of the season, Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said he's not quite sure what he has in quarterback D'Eriq King. He's a terrific athlete. Holgorsen knew that from the moment King arrived at Houston last December, but too much of King's 2018 campaign was an improvisational art form, and Holgorsen wants to see something more rehearsed.
Of course, plotting out an offensive game plan for a guy of King's dazzling athleticism but atypical passing skills isn't a cut-and-paste job, so Holgorsen went looking for comparison points.
King's got a little Lamar Jackson in him, the way he extends plays, creates something from nothing.
He's got some of that Baker Mayfield swagger, too, Holgorsen said. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, an attitude that he's good enough to beat you on every play.
And the body -- 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, an athlete retrofitted to the QB position -- reminds Holgorsen a bit of Kyler Murray, too.
"I'm not saying he's those guys," Holgorsen said, "but he possesses the skill set like those guys had to be successful in college."
Jackson, Mayfield, Murray -- they all ended their careers with some Heisman hardware. King certainly could've been in the conversation for the Heisman last year, too, if he'd finished out the season. He'd racked up more than 3,600 yards and totaled 50 touchdowns before he went down with a knee injury against Tulane in mid-November.
"I wasn't really paying much attention," King said, "but with social media, people tell you how good or how bad you're doing."
Winning the Heisman is an uphill battle for any player outside the Power 5. Not since 1990 has a player from a current Group of 5 team won. But it's also not impossible. In fact, since 1996, a player outside the power conferences has finished in the top 10 in Heisman voting every year but one, including seven finalists.
And King's not the only Group of 5 star with a shot to crash the Heisman party. Here are 10 names worth monitoring this season and what they'll need to do to get to New York alongside the best of the Power 5. We've also included each athlete's PlayStation Player Impact Rating, which measures the effect of every player in college football relative to his position on a 0-100 scale, accounting for the skill of teammates and opponents on every play.