An undefeated regular season. Winning the Thorpe Award as the best cornerback in the country. A surefire first round draft pick.
That was the life of Desmond King in 2015, yet he surprised many by announcing he would stay in college for his senior season this year.
While plenty of those in the media and NFL circles were surprised, one person wasn’t — Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz.
To Ferentz the choice was an obvious one, and it has everything to do with being able to control something in your own life.
“From my vantage point there are few times in life where you get to do what you want to do,” Ferentz said at Big Ten Media Day on Tuesday. “Not that you have to do or feel like you have to do. I think Brandon (Schreff) went through the same thing a year prior to that.
“When you’re sitting in a position where you have a chance, you know your future’s good no matter what you choose to do — you have an option to go to the NFL. And what I told both players was I was pretty confident when they’re 26, 27, they were going to be really good players in the National Football League and contributing to whatever teams they were on. So that was out there. I think it’s a given, pretty much a given for both those guys.”
Last season King burst on to the national stage after slowly building a solid reputation on the conference level. He finished the 2015 season with a Big Ten-best eight interceptions to go along with 21 passes defensed and 72 tackles.
He also returned one of the eight interceptions for a touchdown and was a dangerous weapon as a returner, ranking second in punt return average and fourth in kickoff return average in the Big Ten.
That kind of package in a player the size of King certainly is attractive to NFL teams, but the pull of a degree and still having that professional opportunity in front of him was too much to pass up.