Iowa cornerback Desmond King had an opportunity to leave school early but he decided against it so he could remain in Iowa City for another season and finish his degree. He was projected by many to be a first or second round NFL Draft pick in 2016 after intercepting eight passes during his junior campaign.
His announcement wasn't a total surprise. King was noticeably struggling with his decision leading up to his final choice. He repeatedly said he hadn't made a decision or not in the weeks leading up to his declaration that he would remain at Iowa.
Many will not analyze the choice. He could have been a first rounder if he had left for the NFL this year. Will the decision to remain in college pay off? Certainly head coach Kirk Ferentz believes so.
"Needless to say, we are all really pleased to learn that Desmond wanted to come back for his senior season," Ferentz said. "Personally I think it's the best thing for him on all levels, not just as a football player but as a person. I think it's just a great thing. I know he's going to be a great teammate and hopefully develop into one of our strong team leaders. I think he certainly has that opportunity and that expectation. Thrilled to get him back."
Ferentz also stated earlier in the season that "he has another level to go". But what is that level? It is not out of the question that King could be less productive next year statistically but have a better season and not receive the same accolades that he did this postseason. He was named to every all-american team, received the Jim Thorpe Award, received the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year Award, tied the school record for interceptions in a single season, and was first team all-Big Ten as well.
Can he duplicate all that again? It is unlikely. But does that mean he should have left? Not exactly. If head coach Kirk Ferentz is correct that he has a never level to go, then the same numbers and accolades won't mean as much as him improving and taking his game to another level in the eyes of NFL scouts. But if he doesn't produce those same statistics and national recognition, it is paramount he does take that next step in his development.
Simply put, King is betting on himself. He could have went at the end of the first round. He's betting on himself that he can play even better and have his NFL stock soar even more. But even if it doesn't, he's doing what he wants to do. He wanted to stay at Iowa and enjoy the college experience and get his college degree. Either way, he's a winner. A winner that the Hawkeyes are excited to have on the roster.
"I wouldn't use the word 'surprised' but I was pleased," Ferentz shared at his press conference following the Rose Bowl. My sense was in December that he was giving it serious thought. I don't want to say he was leaning towards coming back but I think he had an open mind and we encourage that."
"But I think it's a little bit like Brandon (Scherff) last year," Ferentz continued. "I think he enjoys the college experience. I think he values being a team leader. I think he values the opportunity to be part of something special. And it's more fun. It's more enjoyable than pro football, and every one of our players says that; and I've coached in the NFL, I'd say the same thing. And the bottom line is, pro football is going to be there for him. But now he has a chance to get in the NFL hopefully a year from now with a college degree in hand. It's important to him; it's important to his family."