With a growing list of underclassmen declaring for the NFL in the past few days, Iowa received some exceptional news from one of its top players. Iowa cornerback Desmond King will pass on the NFL Draft in 2016 and return to play for his senior season with the Hawkeyes.
The Daily Iowan reports King’s decision to return for his senior season has more to do with unfinished business, a sentiment likely developed from Iowa’s loss in the Big Ten Championship Game and dismal performance in the Rose Bowl against Pac-12 champion Stanford. After an undefeated regular season, Iowa finished the year 0-2 in the two biggest games of the season, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of King. King also didn’t want to leave Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard hanging.
“He didn’t want to leave C.J. [Beathard] like that,” King’s mother, Yvette Powell, told The Daily Iowan. “We talked to C.J. and he was happy. I told him it’s time for you guys to lead your team and to see them on graduation day. That’s a beautiful thing. They want to stick together, that’s what it’s all about.”
King reportedly informed Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz of his decision on Monday.
“Everybody’s surprised,” Powell said. ” It’s not about the money all the time. The money is going to be there. He has more chance to make more with a degree.”
King was a consensus All-American player in 2015 and he won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back. He also was named the Big Ten’s defensive back of the year and earned a handful of defensive player of the year honors during the regular season. His return to Iowa in 2016 will help anchor the secondary which will lose senior safety Jordan Lomax but pretty much have the same identity next fall. Iowa’s defense was in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten in terms of passing yards allowed, but the Hawkeyes had 19 interceptions to 17 touchdowns allowed. King was responsible for eight of those interceptions, and he returned one for a touchdown.