April 8, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Micah Hyde is on the move. And as Michigan State and Missouri can confirm, Hyde can really move.
As a sophomore starter at right cornerback in 2010, Hyde led the University of Iowa football team with 142 interception return yards and seven pass breakups. He hauled in an interception/pitch from strong safety Tyler Sash and took it 66 yards for a touchdown against the Spartans on Oct. 30. His 72-yard interception return in the Insight Bowl helped the Hawkeyes defeat Missouri, 27-24, on Dec. 28.
Hyde, honorable mention all-Big Ten by conference media, is on the move again; this time from his cornerback position to free safety.
“When it first happened, coach just told me it’s best for the team and that’s what I should do. I’m here for what’s best for the team and to help the team out,” said Hyde, a native of Fostoria, Ohio. “That’s what the coaches are there for. They put me in position that’s best for me. Right now I’m just trying to get better and this position change helps out the team.”
For the past four seasons, Iowa’s free safety has been former walk-on Brett Greenwood. Last season Greenwood led the Hawkeyes with five interceptions and he added 61 tackles. Meanwhile, Hyde was second on the team with 82 tackles and tied for second with four interceptions. He had the most solo stops (58).
A cornerback in Iowa’s defensive scheme has ample responsibility; a free safety has even more. Hyde, with 26 collegiate games under his belt, seems perfect to become a leader of the secondary.
“Free safety is where you have to know what the defense is doing at all times,” Hyde said. “You have to know the reads. At corner you have to do some of that, too, but there’s a lot more responsibility at free safety. It’s like the quarterback of the defense.”
There are five returning defensive starters for the Hawkeyes: Hyde, left cornerback Shaun Prater, defensive tackle Mike Daniels and linebackers James Morris and Tyler Nielsen. Defensive end Broderick Binns and linebacker Shane DiBona were part time starters. Hyde isn’t concerned about having new faces on the field when the season opens Sept. 3 against Tennessee Tech.
“A lot of people think it’s such a big deal that we have a lot of young guys coming on defense, but our system here is used to throwing guys in when we need them,” Hyde said. “It’s like coach (Chris) Doyle with the lifting; he works from the bottom and builds you up. This whole system that Iowa brings — the Iowa program — once you come here you start getting better and it’s a process. Some people may be surprised we have some young people in right now, but not to the rest of the team, we’re used to it.”
Talk of the position switch began when Iowa’s players returned from winter break. A coach called Hyde’s mother, Pamela Hampton, who then spoke with another son, Marcus, a strong safety at Michigan State. The family gave the move a unanimous approval rating.
Hyde is not certain if the position change is permanent.
“As of right now, it’s best for me to play free safety,” he said. “I can’t tell you what I might be doing a year and half from now or next fall. I might be on the D line, you never know.”
The defensive line is one place where Hyde’s 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame would look out of place. For now he remains in a secondary that includes Prater, a first team all-Big Ten selection. Prater had 68 tackles, six pass breakups and four interceptions in 2010.
“Prater is a playmaker. He brings a lot of energy to the team,” Hyde said. “If you come to our practice and watch us, Prater’s the one running around — he’s like the Energizer bunny — he’s everywhere, and he’s a ball hawk and he’s fun to play with.”
With two huge scoring plays a year ago, Hyde was asked if he or the coaching staff entertained thoughts of him playing on the offensive side of the ball as well — more specifically at wide receiver.
“We have our receivers, they’re good receivers,” Hyde said. “I go against them every day. They beat me, I beat them; it’s a competition out there. Playing quarterback in high school, I’ve always thought of having the ball in my hands (in college), but defense is cool with me. I played that in high school also and I’ve been playing it a couple years here and fallen in love with it. “
What about returning punts?
“I’ve been taking some catches back there a couple times, but nothing serious,” Hyde said. “A couple of us have been back there catching some punts.”
The Hawkeyes participated in their 11th practice of the spring Friday. The final practice of the spring season is open to the public Saturday, April 16, beginning at noon.