Harty: Where does Desmond King’s special season rank under Ferentz?
IOWA CITY, Iowa – We already knew that Desmond King was pretty good.
But this good?
Iowa’s junior cornerback and return specialist is having the kind of stat-stuffing season that makes legends.
Anytime you’re on the verge of breaking a record held by the great Nile Kinnick, as is the case with King, that’s pretty special.
King leads the Big Ten with seven interceptions and needs just one more to tie Iowa’s single-season record of eight, which is held by Lou King (no relation) in 1981 and by Kinnick in his Heisman Trophy-winning season of 1939.
There is a good chance King could add to his total on Saturday against Indiana, considering how much the Hoosiers rely on throwing the football.
King’s performance this season got me thinking about other players who compiled spectacular numbers during the course of one season under Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, enough that I ranked the top-10 individual performances under Ferentz, but without including King’s current season because there still is a third of it left.
The rankings are based almost exclusively on statistics. That basically ruled out offensive linemen and made it more difficult for defensive players to crack the list.
That’s why King’s performance this season is even more impressive. The Detroit native is on pace for double-digit interceptions, which is incredible when you think about it. He is also Iowa’s most dynamic return specialist since Derrell Johnson-Koulianos played for the Hawkeyes from 2007-10.
Here is what King’s current season is stacked up against.
1. Shonn Greene, RB, 2008 – He gets the edge in a very close call over Brad Banks’ Heisman Trophy runner-up season, but it could have gone either way because both seasons were legendary. Greene sort of came out nowhere to rush for a school-record 1,850 yards and score 20 touchdowns in 2008. In addition to being a physical force, the 230-pound Greene was a model of consistency, rushing for at least 100 yards in all 13 games.
He also led Iowa’s resurgence as a team as the Hawkeyes finished 9-4 that season, capped by a 31-10 victory over South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Greene was recognized for his achievements by winning the 2008 Doak Walker Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top collegiate running back.
2. Brad Banks, QB, 2002 – Speaking of coming out of nowhere, Banks did that six years before Greene had his record-breaking season. Banks went from being a backup in 2001, who flashed at times, to the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 2002.
A native of Belle Glade, Fla., Banks led Iowa to an undefeated record in the Big Ten for the first time in 80 years and to a school-record 11 victories overall. He gave Iowa a new dimension as a dual-threat quarterback and finished with 2,996 total yards. Banks led the nation in passing efficiency in 2002 with a 157.1 rating, and had 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He also rushed for 423 yards, which set a school record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season.
3. Drew Tate, QB, 2004 – He was the heart, soul, arms, and sometimes the legs, for Iowa’s injury-riddled Big Ten champion team in 2004. A native of Baytown, Tex., Tate led Iowa to a share of the Big Ten title despite his team barely having a rushing attack. He passed for 2,786 yards and 20 touchdowns, while completing 62.1 percent of his throws.
4. Marvin McNutt, WR, 2011 – McNutt finished with a school-record 1,315 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns four years ago. The St. Louis native is one of just four players in school history to have at least 1,000 receiving yards in a single season, but his total is nearly 300 yards more than Keith Chappelle’s second-place total of 1,037 receiving yards from 1980.
McNutt also tied Kevin Kasper’s school record of 82 receptions in 2001, while averaging 16.0 yards per catch.
5. Dallas Clark, TE, 2002 – Continuing with the came-out-of-nowhere theme, Clark went from being a former walk-on linebacker under Hayden Fry to arguably the nation’s top tight end under Ferentz in 2002. Clark caught 43 passes for 742 yards and four touchdowns as a junior in 2002. It wasn’t just how many passes Clark caught that made him effective, but also the circumstances. He had a knack for making timely catches that often shifted the momentum to Iowa’s favor.
6. Marcus Coker, RB, 2011 – The Maryland native rushed fir 1,384 yards and scored 15 touchdowns despite being suspended from the 2011 Insight Bowl. He shredded Minnesota for 252 rushing yards, which is the third highest single-game rushing total in school history.
The 2011 season turned out to be Coker’s last with the Hawkeyes. He left the program after being suspended and then transferred to Stony Brook, where he used up his eligibility last season.
7. Kevin Kasper, WR, 2000 – The former walk-on under Hayden Fry was one of the few bright spots during Iowa’s 3-9 season in 2000. He set the school record for catches with 82 and finished with 1,010 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
8. Ricky Stanzi, QB, 2010 – The Ohio native became the first quarterback in school history who didn’t have the first name of Chuck to pass for at least 3,000 yards in a season. Stanzi threw for 3,004 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2010, while competing 64.1 percent of his passes.
9. James Vandenberg, QB, 2011 – The Keokuk native replaced Stanzi as the starter in 2011 and also joined the 3,000-yard passing club. Vandenberg surpassed Stanzi’s passing total from the previous season by 18 yards, throwing for 3,022 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2011.
10. Ladell Betts, RB, 1999 – With apologies to Fred Russell and Albert Young, the final spot belongs to Betts, mostly because of the circumstances. Iowa was horrible in 1999, finishing just 1-10 in Ferentz’s first season, but Betts still pounded his way to 857 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He averaged a respectable 4.5 yards per carry despite running behind a young and often overmatched offensive line.
As for Russell and Young, they would’ve been 11th and 12th on the list with their rushing totals in 2003 and 2005, respectively. Russell rushed for 1,355 yards in 2003, while Young gained 1,334 yards in 2005.
Also considered: Maurice Brown, WR, 2002; Albert Young, RB, 2005; Clinton Solomon, WR, 2004; Derrell Johnson Koulianos, WR, 2010; Kahlil Hill, WR, 2001; Tyler Sash, DB, 2009; Jovon Johnson, DB, 2003; Bob Sanders, DB, 2001, Nate Kaeding, K, 2002.