Former Iowa cornerback Desmond King named to BTN All-Decade Team

King is the third former Iowa player to be named to the team so far.


Iowa defensive backs Desmond King celebrates a stopped play against Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Badgers, 10-6. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

Robert Read, Sports Editor

Desmond King keeps finding ways to exceed expectations. King was originally committed to Ball State before the Hawkeyes flipped him, and now he is a member of the Big Ten Network All-Decade Team’s secondary.

King played for Iowa from 2013-16, and is now the third former Hawkeye on BTN’s All-Decade team so far, joining linebacker Josey Jewell and offensive lineman Brandon Scherff. King is one of only two cornerbacks to make the team, along with Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard.

“That’s an amazing accomplishment,” King told BTN’s Rick Pizzo. “I really appreciate everyone that put me in that category as being one of the great cornerbacks of the decade, it means a lot honestly.”

King holds Iowa records for career starts (51) and career games played (53). He is the only Big Ten player in the past 20 seasons with 12 or more career interceptions and over 1,500 combined kickoff and punt return yards.

As a freshman, King saw action in all 13 games and was named first team Freshman All-Big Ten by, and third team Freshman All-America by Athlon Sports. As a sophomore, the Detroit, Michigan, native recorded three interceptions and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the league’s media.

Then, King broke out as a junior.

King helped lead the Hawkeyes to an undefeated regular season in 2015 and a berth in the Rose Bowl. That season, King recorded eight interceptions, 13 passes defended, and was a sure tackler outside, finishing with 72 stops.

King’s eight interceptions tied a school record held by Lou King and Nile Kinnick.

“Why I like Desmond King is, it’s not just about the interceptions, which he had a ton of in his junior season,” BTN analyst J Leman said. “If you play corner at Iowa, you’re asked to play run support. When I think of a corner that’s well-rounded that could really tackle in the open field, I’m not just talking ankle tackle, I’m talking hit you and also cover the best receivers at the same time, that’s a hard duty. They say cornerback is the hardest position to play and easiest one to coach. It’s all about athletic ability, but [King] not only had the athletic ability, he has the smarts and the physicality that you just don’t find in a lot of corners.”

For his stellar junior season, King was named a consensus first-team All-American and was the recipient of the Jim Thorpe Award, the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year Award, and the Jack Tatum Award, presented by the Touchdown Club of Columbus to the best defensive back in college football.

King was also one of five finalists for the Walter Camp player of the Year award.

“He is a ball hawk,” BTN analyst and former Iowa QB Chuck Long said. “He has great hands. Probably should have been a receiver. He could do something after the interception. He could make plays and score a touchdown off the pick. He was one of those guys that you could do a lot with on that side of the ball. Put him on the best receiver, and now you can have your safety a little bit lower in the box to play the run. They were able to do that with Desmond King.”

Many analysts projected King as a first or second-round draft pick following his junior year. But he decided to return for his senior season and finish his Hawkeye career.

Despite opposing offenses often not even throwing to his side of the field, King still finished with three interceptions as a senior. He was named a first-team All-American by five outlets and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection for the second year in a row.

King was a fifth-round draft pick by the San Diego Chargers in the 2017 NFL Draft. In his second season, King was named first-team All-Pro.

“I got to know Desmond King when I was playing with the San Diego Chargers, and the thing about him was the explosion,” said Joshua Perry, former Ohio State linebacker and King’s teammate with the Chargers in 2016. “It seemed like he was everywhere on the field because just with a few steps he was right up on you. He had a knack for finding the ball. They felt like they could put him outside, they felt like they could play him in the slot, at safety. He was so impressive. But the thing outside of that too, he was standing back there fielding kicks and fielding punts. Here’s a guy with all the versatility in the world, all the explosion in the world. He became a very dangerous weapon, and that’s what he was at Iowa.”

King finished his Iowa career with 263 tackles and 14 interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns.

“I think in Iowa, there’s one guy, who is a true barometer for history, and that of course is Nile Kinnick,” BTN analyst Dave Revsine said. “The only Heisman Trophy winner, the guy who the stadium is named after, if you tie a record held by Nile Kinnick, you know you’ve done something really good. That’s what Desmond King did tying him for the most single-season interceptions in that junior year. He came back for his senior year, somewhat surprisingly and was really good again. Desmond King, one of the all-time greats in the Big Ten and a true clear cut all-decade corner.”

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