University of Georgia running back Caleb King -- once an extremely highly-touted prospect -- will petition the NFL for eligibility into this summer's supplemental draft rather than transfer to a lower division school, according to Seth Emerson's "Bulldogs Blog" of the Ledger-Enquirer.
Emerson cites a person close to King and expects King to make a more formal announcement regarding his decision soon.
King was ruled academically ineligible last week and had been known in scouting circles to be considering making this move. However, after three mostly disappointing seasons on the field for the Bulldogs, he might have been better off showcasing his skills at a lower level. Each of the past two seasons King had been unable to secure the starting tailback job, recording 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 starts (18 games).
King signed with Georgia rated by recruiting websites as high as the No. 3 prep running back in the country. The 5-11, 219-pounder was often compared to Georgia great Herschel Walker, but saw his game appearances shrink from 11 games as a redshirt freshman in 2008 to 10 in 2009 and eight last year.
His most impressive statistical season came in 2009 when he rushed for 594 yards and seven touchdowns, including two fourth-quarter touchdowns against Auburn (see video below) that helped the Bulldogs beat the Tigers.
As you can see in the video, King has some talent. He has good burst to and through the hole and the lateral agility to elude defenders. What you appear to see on the video below -- but, unfortunately, you rarely see on actual game tape -- is the ability to seperate from defenders. King doesn't have top-end speed. He struggles to get to the edge and is too often caught from behind. Considering he has the size scouts are looking for, however, and is a nice interior runner who is a physical player in pass protection, he does have enough talent to warrant a late-round selection (6th-7th round).
According to Evan Silva of ProFootballTalk.com, King received a 1.60 from BLESTO Scouting and a 4.9 from National Football Scouting. These scores, according to the report, equate to a 6th round and priority free agent grades from the two respective scouting organizations.
Ultimately, teams are likely to struggle with the fact that King wasn't able to ever truly make his mark at Georgia despite multiple opportunities. While he was expected to once again share the load this year, King was in prime position for significant playing time with Washaun Easley, the Bulldogs' leading rusher last year having left the school in May following two suspensions for misbehavior off the field.
King has also struggled with off-field problems. He was not allowed to participate in Georgia's stunning Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida last year after skipping five academic meetings. He was suspended for two regular-season games earlier in the year for failing to appear in court to deal with a speeding ticket.
While talented enough for teams to consider using a draft pick on, King has his work cut out for him if he is going to be able to convince a club he has the work ethic and maturity worthy of a selection in the supplemental draft (whenever that should come) when there are several other similarly-gifted backs who will be available for signing as undrafted free agents. Teams will ask themselves why give up a pick for King when they could sign Auburn's Mario Fannin, Miami's Graig Cooper or Virginia Tech's Darren Evans (among others).
Despite the talent to be rated higher, King's unreliability is concerning enough that he is currently NFLDraftScout.com's 30th rated running back of the 2012 draft class.