A closer look: Iowa secondary

Desmond King worked on getting up to speed this offseason

Defensive backs Greg Mabin (13) and Desmond King (14) during the Iowa football media day at the Kenyon practice facility in Iowa City on Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Defensive backs Greg Mabin (13) and Desmond King (14) during the Iowa football media day at the Kenyon practice facility in Iowa City on Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)


CB — 1a. Desmond King, sr., 5-11, 203; 1a. Greg Mabin, sr., 6-2, 200; 3. Joshua Jackson, so., 6-1, 185; 4. Michael Ojemudia, #fr., 6-2, 190; 6. Manny Rugamba, fr., 6-0, 172; 7. Cedric Boswell, fr., 5-11, 175; 8. Jonathan Lubanza, #fr., 6-1, 180

FS — 1. Brandon Snyder, so., 6-1, 210; 2. Jake Gervase, jr., 6-1, 210; 3. Amani Hooker, fr., 6-0, 203

SS — 1. Miles Taylor, jr., 6-0, 205; 2. Anthony Gair, sr., 6-2, 210; 3. Kevin Ward, jr., 6-1, 205


Corner might be the deepest position on Iowa’s roster. Desmond King and Greg Mabin have combined for 64 career starts and one Thorpe Award. The next wave is sophomore Joshua Jackson and redshirt freshman Michael Ojemudia. Jackson played a ton in nickel/raider packages last season. Ojemudia almost had his redshirt taken off as a true freshman. True freshman Manny Rugamba will play, and fellow true freshman Cedric Boswell had a terrific showing during the August scrimmage.

Also, Chevin Calloway, one of the top cornerbacks in Texas, has committed to the Hawkeyes. Iowa is good here.

Brandon Snyder earned the scholarship and the starter spot at free safety. Sophomore walk-on Jake Gervase is the back-up. He saw some time on special teams last season. True freshman Amani Hooker probably plays, if not from scrimmage then probably on special teams, where he lined up with first kick coverage unit during the open scrimmage.

Miles Taylor is sewn into the strong safety spot, with senior Anthony Gair as the backup. Gair has started a couple of games and is trusted and might be in line for a special teams captainship. Junior walk-on Kevin Ward also might end up on special teams. He also played some outside linebacker in August.


King surprised college football, and probably the NFL, when, in January, he announced that he would return to Iowa for his senior season.

King won every major award you can think of for a defensive back, including the Thorpe Award and consensus all-American, with a season that included a school record-tying eight interceptions. He did submit his name to the NFL Draft Advisory Committee.

“We did the paperwork and got an evaluation back,” King said. “It said from [round] one through four, so it could’ve been anywhere. It was my decision to come back, get my education and improve myself.”

Video: How can Desmond King improve in 2016



King said speed was the main concern in the evaluations. Of course, he took that to heart. King spent this offseason heavily engaged in speed competitions with teammates. Also, he ran on sand (volleyball courts in Iowa City) twice a week and worked on quick-feet drills. He said he’s noticed a difference.

“I work on it everyday,” King said. “There will be a difference if you keep working. I feel myself getting faster. I’m winning speed competitions and beating out a lot of people. I can feel that I’m getting faster.”


It’s a small club, but King will join Iowa players who returned for their senior seasons with an insurance policy on themselves. Offensive tackles Robert Gallery (2003) and Brandon Scherff (2014) took out insurance policies. They didn’t need them and went No. 2 and No. 5 in their respective NFL drafts.

These vary from player to player. reported Thursday that Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson took out $10 million worth of insurance policies, which generally cost $10,000 per $1 million of insurance.

King didn’t know all of the details of his policy, but he definitely knew he had one.


“Once I made my decision to come back, my mom (Yvette Powell) made sure I had insurance on my body,” said King, who has disability and loss of value covered, in case of major injury, of course. “She knows I know how to take care of my body, but she wanted to make sure everything was going to be OK. It’s more to protect me.”

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