QB King fully cleared as Houston opens spring

HOUSTON -- As Dana Holgorsen opened up his first spring as the Houston Cougars' head coach, he did so on Tuesday with his best returning player -- senior quarterback D'Eriq King -- ready to go.

King, who missed the Cougars' final two games last season with a torn meniscus in his right knee, is "fully cleared" for practice, Holgorsen said.

In 2018, King was third in the FBS in touchdowns responsible for, accounting for 50 -- an American Athletic Conference record. Without King, the Cougars lost their final two games, including a 70-14 defeat at the hands of Army in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

King averaged 27.5 points responsible for per game, which led the country, and was sixth in the nation with 36 passing touchdowns. Holgorsen noted that King is nearly 100 percent healthy, but the team will proceed with caution in regard to his workload this spring.

"All these quarterbacks will be protected this spring," Holgorsen said. "There will be a time when we'll go live, but he's not a guy that needs to do that."

Holgorsen, who arrived at Houston in January after eight years as the coach at West Virginia, said the first three months on his new job have been "tiring," as he has hired 32 staffers, worked feverishly on the recruiting trail and spent time meeting with and getting to know his new team.

The latter part is an ongoing process; the players at Tuesday's practice all had names on the back of their shirts as Holgorsen is still learning the identity of everyone on the roster. Looking back on his West Virginia tenure, Holgorsen said he learned a lot and has come a long way from the first time he took over a program, back in 2011 when he took charge of the Mountaineers.

"I don't even have to go back and think and look at the things I screwed up early on [at West Virginia]," Holgorsen said, recalling his first season in Morgantown. "I know there was a lot and I'm sure I'm gonna make some mistakes here as well.

"But it's a lot smoother now. ... We're at a point where I feel good about our staff, I feel good about our team and we're ready to go to work."