December 26, 2012

King has seen it all

One could say that fifth-year senior Tavarres King has seen it all during his five years as a member of the Georgia Bulldogs.

You'd be just about right.

"You can't get any lower than the year (2010) we went 6-7. You can't get any lower, knowing the tradition around here, the way things used to be," King said. "Nowadays, the class before me and now my class, we've kind of changed the culture around here. We've got Georgia back to its winning ways."

It's been a crazy and satisfying ride.

Although King still shakes his head in disgust when he recalls that first losing campaign in 14 years, knowing he's played a big part in getting the Bulldog program back on a positive track is more than enough to make him smile.

"It's very satisfying," King said. "The way Georgia used to be - the way Georgia used to be thought of - is back. People knew when they played Georgia they had to buckle down and I think that's the way they think of us now."

As King gets ready to suit up as a Bulldog for the final time in the Capital One Bowl, the Mt. Airy native would not even be playing against Nebraska had he not suffered a season-ending ankle injury as a freshman in Week 4 of the 2008 season at Arizona State, resulting in a medical redshirt giving him the additional year.

But like a fine wine, King has gotten better with age.

With 122 more receiving yards, King will move into third place in school history, something that may surprise your average Bulldog fan, considering came to Athens the same time as current Cincinnati Bengals star A.J. Green.

"I've matured. On the field, I feel much more at home," King said. "I'm passionate about my job. It's something I take great pride in. It's something I love doing, and something I hope I can do for a long time."

Teammate Chris Conley has appreciated what he's seen.

"Tavarres has been a great teammate," Conley said. "He's someone you can always depend on and be there for you. He's always there to pick you up and keep you focused."

King - who last year set a school and Bulldog bowl record with 205 yards in Georgia's loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl - has had an outstanding career.

With 133 catches for 2,498 yards, King has averaged an impressive 18.8 yards per catch and scored 19 times, 16 of which have come in the past two campaigns.

"Certainly, I think I've progressed every year. I've gotten better, and that's a tribute to Coach (Mike) Bobo and Coach (Tony) Ball for putting me in the right positions to succeed and I can't thank them enough for that. I can get better and continue to grow as a football player, and that's what I plan to be."

He figures to get that opportunity.

Upon returning back from Orlando, King will start preparing what he hopes is a long career in the NFL, including what he hopes will be an impressive showing in the Senior Bowl Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala.

King is one of four Bulldogs taking part in the game, along with John Jenkins, Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo.

"It's very exciting and going to be a very exciting time," King said. "It's one of the most prestigious bowls that you can be invited to, in my opinion. It's going to be a fun time. I'll get to showcase my talents and hopefully make a name for myself."

But he plans on enjoying the Capital One Bowl first, and hopefully help the Bulldogs gain some measure of satisfaction after coming so close in the SEC title game against Alabama.

King said Georgia can't continue to lament what happened and hope to be successful against the Cornhuskers.

"There's just only one way you can deal with it and that's to move forward," he said. "You can't say 'what-if.' You've got to go with the flow. Alabama's a great team and they played a great game. We played a great game; we just ran out of time."

He said the Bulldogs will be excited to get that chance.

"Absolutely," he said. "I think you've got to be. Anytime you put on that helmet, wear that G, you're coming to play. We're ready to compete and get this bowl win."