IOWA CITY, Iowa – So used to seeing somebody in Desmond King’s situation take the money and run, I was all but convinced that he was finished as an Iowa football player.
I figured he would cash in on being the 2015 Jim Thorpe Award winner and bolt for the NFL one year early.
King is hot. He’s healthy. And he’s not getting any younger by NFL standards, even though he just turned 21 in December.
But King’s mother, Yvette Powell, told the Daily Iowan student newspaper on Monday that her son, a consensus all-America defensive back, would return for his senior season, saying he had unfinished business.
The good news spread quickly on social media as Iowa fans expressed excitement and relief.
With the 5-foot-11, 200-pound King in the mix, Iowa now has seven full-time starters returning on defense. That number would grow to eight if all-Big Ten defensive end Drew Ott is granted a medical redshirt.
Somebody pointed out to me on Twitter that King choosing to return for his senior season is like landing a 5-star recruit.
I think it’s even better because with most 5-star prospects, there is some uncertainty about how they will handle the transition from high school to college.
But with King, there is no uncertainty. He is a proven playmaker as a cornerback and return specialist, a ball hawk who constantly rises to the occasion.
King didn’t have much success during the 45-16 loss to Stanford in the Rose Bowl last Friday. But nobody did for Iowa.
It’s nice knowing that the Rose Bowl debacle won’t be King’s last game as a Hawkeye.
He has one more season to add to an already legendary career.
The Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate defensive back, has existed since 1986 and no one has won the award twice. King now has a chance to be the first one, but it won’t be easy for lots of reasons, including just the number of quality candidates that emerge each season.
It’s also reasonable to assume that King’s interceptions will drop next season because quarterbacks will be reluctant to throw his way.
But who cares about that right now.
It’s always a victory in some ways when a student-athlete chooses to finish what he or she started in college.
I’ve gained even more respect for King because it would’ve been easy to take the fast money and leave college behind.
He said before the Rose Bowl that he still was waiting for his NFL evaluation. It’s possible that King has since heard back and was told that returning to Iowa for another season would be his best option.
Now you just hope that he stays healthy because there is an obvious risk in coming back, insurance policy or no insurance policy.
Football is an unforgiving and cruel game where each play might be your last.
King has taken all that into consideration and he apparently feels that it is in his best interest to return for his senior season.
Good for him, and good for the 2016 Iowa football team.