Sep 4, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Desmond King isn’t sure if Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch knew he was a freshman playing his first game Aug. 31.
But by the end of the day, Lynch had to know he was facing a pretty decent right cornerback.
King is the only true freshman to see action for the Hawkeyes during a season-opening 30-27 loss to Northern Illinois. He played on special teams and took 17 snaps in the secondary in relief of starter Jordan Lomax.
“It’s a blessing to go up against an opponent like that as a freshman,” King said of facing Lynch, a Heisman Trophy candidate. “I had a lot of things going through my mind, wondering if he was going to throw it to my side even though I don’t know if he knows I’m a freshman. I was wondering if he ran out if I could get a shot on him.”
King finished with four tackles (two solo, two assists) and a pass breakup.
“I was kind of nervous when I heard my name and I saw Lomax coming off the field,” King said. “The coaches told me to get out there now. After that first play I knew I could handle this; I just had to block out the crowd and stay focused.”
When it comes to seeking advice, King doesn’t act like a rookie. On the pregame bus ride from Cedar Rapids to Kinnick Stadium, he talked to seniors B.J. Lowery and Christian Kirksey, who helped ease his anxiety. King knows that the young, unproven players will get picked on, but as far as he is concerned, the more action that comes his way during a game, the better.
And now that he has a hard-fought battle under his belt, he no longer feels like the wide-eyed high school player that intercepted 29 passes for East English Village Prep in Detroit.
“I feel different now that I have been on the field,” King said. “I know I need to contribute to the team, talk a little more, give the linebackers more calls, and stay focused.”
King earned passing marks from UI head coach Kirk Ferentz.
“He competed well,” Ferentz said. “There are some technique things that he can improve on, but the big thing is that he wasn’t overwhelmed. He had a good demeanor on the sideline and he was eager to compete. Hopefully we can move him forward a little bit this week, too. He’s in the water swimming now.”
The Hawkeyes host Missouri State on Sept. 7 with an 11:01 a.m. (CT) kickoff.