IOWA CITY, Iowa – Desmond King’s spectacular junior season has added yet another milestone moment with him winning the Jim Thorpe Award on Thursday.
King is the first Iowa football player to win the Thorpe Award, which goes to the top collegiate defensive back in the country. He is currently tied for Iowa’s single-season record for interceptions with eight and still has one more chance to break the record against Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
"I believe this year I improved more by watching more film and being more serious and emerging as a leader on defense," King said on the College Football Awards Show.
A native of Detroit, King also was named the Big Ten’s top defensive back this season. He has started 37 of the last 38 games at cornerback dating back to early in his freshman season.
The only exception was the Nebraska game on Nov. 27 in Lincoln, Neb., when the 5-foot-11, 200-pound King was suspended for the first quarter after being late for a team meeting earlier in the week.
King holds the single-season interception record with Nile Kinnick and Lou King (no relation). Kinnick set the record as part of the legendary Ironmen in 1939, and on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy that season, while Lou King intercepted eight passes during Iowa’s 1981 Rose Bowl season.
Desmond King was asked Thursday on the award’s show why quarterbacks keep throwing his way.
"I honestly don’t know," King said. "But if they keep doing it, it’s going to be intercepted."
The mother of Desmond King, who also excels as a return specialist, told ESPN this week that her son was leaning towards returning to Iowa for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft a year early.
King was lightly recruited in high school despite setting a Michigan record with 29 career interceptions. He was committed to Central Michigan, then Ball State before Iowa started recruiting him late in the recruiting process. King visited Iowa and then signed a letter of intent with the Hawkeyes in February 2013.
Iowa senior center Austin Blythe was among three finalists for the Rimington Award, which goes to the top collegiate center in the country. Alabama’s Ryan Kelly was the recipient of the award.