The first time Gig Harbor junior quarterback Ben Hollenbeck noticed Ryan King’s speed was freshman year, during the first couple football practices.
King, a 5-foot-7, 145-pound junior receiver, hasn’t slowed down since that time.
In the last two games against Spanaway Lake and Peninsula, King has racked up a combined 194 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’s done that with only seven catches. That’s an average of about 28 yards per catch.
Speed has played a big role in that number.
“He’s one of the fastest guys I’ve ever seen on the field,” Hollenbeck said. “Get him the ball in open space and he’s gone.”
King, a soft-spoken and humble player, prefers to let his speed do the talking for him. First-year Gig Harbor coach George Fairhart said he hardly even noticed King when he first arrived in the spring.
“When I first saw him, I didn’t think much of him because of his small stature and quiet, friendly demeanor,” Fairhart said. “But on the field, he’s electric. He gets the ball and goes after people. He’s not afraid of contact. He’s got incredible quickness. Anytime he gets the ball, you don’t know what’s going to happen. He could go all the way.”
King started last year but wasn’t relied on much. This year, he’s been the most explosive player on a talented Gig Harbor squad.
“I didn’t get the ball much last year,” he said. “So it’s neat. It’s a big change from last year.”
King, who said he runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, said not much has changed. He’s just getting more opportunities this year.
“I feel like I’ve got a little bigger — well, not much bigger,” he said, with a laugh. “I’m a little faster, better at my routes, better at getting open.”
That last part is perhaps the most important. While lots of players are fast, route running and quickness can be the difference between an average and a great receiver.
“He’s one of the better route runners on the team,” Hollenbeck said. “And then just his quickness — he can go one way and then turn and go just as quick. He’s the quickest guy on our team.”
Fairhart said King has all the tools.
“He’s a great route runner and has great hands,” Fairhart said. “He goes after the ball. He goes after it and attacks it. He can adjust with the ball in the air. I think he’s deceptively fast, too. A lot of his yardage comes after the catch. He’s very evasive and makes people miss.”
Gig Harbor has posted a 1-2 record so far this season, but the Tides have faced a challenging schedule, and the players are optimistic good things are coming soon.
“We’re just getting used to the new offense that (new coach George) Fairhart brought in,” King said. “I think when we pick it up fully, we’ll win some big games. The offense has been really nice.”
King paused for a second, reflecting on his success so far this season.
“(The offense) fits me,” King said.
Like a glove, it seems.