CHICAGO — Last winter, Iowa signed a pair of defensive linemen from Desmond King’s high school in Detroit. This summer, and with King’s help, the Hawkeyes picked up a commitment from one of the top cornerbacks in Texas.
With Detroit East English Village preps Cedrick Lattimore and Chauncey Golston, the built-in relationship of a shared high school with King helped. So did King’s Thorpe Award-winning season, which included a school record-tying eight interceptions.
“He actually balled out this year,” Lattimore told mlive.com on signing day in February. “He did his thing. Shout out to Desmond King. That’s like my brother too. I’m proud of him and what he did.”
King still is on the recruiting beat for Iowa.
“I’m not sure,” King said this week at Big Ten media days when asked why he thinks recruits seek him out. “I’m a friendly person, so if I see recruits around our complex or around the stadium, I’ll go speak with them and say hello. Get to know who they are, where they’re from and what position they play.”
Earlier this summer, Chevin Calloway, listed as a top 100 recruit by Rivals.com, visited Iowa and met with King. He snapped a few pictures with King and posted them on his Twitter, including one under the banner celebrating King’s Thorpe Award on the south end of Kinnick Stadium.
Enjoyed my visit at Iowa with the coaches & the Jim Thorpe award winner Desmond King pic.twitter.com/7r8I1xv8nW
— Chevin Calloway (@_chev1_) June 22, 2016
“It was nice,” Calloway told HawkeyeReport.com about meeting King. “He really motivated me and gave me a lot of words of encouragement.”
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About three weeks after his visit, Calloway, holding offers from Alabama, Texas, Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame, committed to the Hawkeyes.
Again, he mentioned his meeting with King.
“I think it meant a lot to talk to him and for him to talk about how much he had developed into a great player and person there,” Calloway told HawkeyeReport. “I can see how they really made him into something great.”
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, who can’t speak about specific recruits per NCAA rules, said he thought maybe King would be a help in recruiting when King announced in January that he was returning for his senior season at Iowa.
“I think Desmond does a great job representing the program,” Ferentz said this week at Big Ten media days. “The fact that he chose to come back I think would suggest that he’s going to be a good recruiter for us. His actions speak volumes and I think that resonates with recruits."
King downplays this. He sees it as a natural extension of his personality.
“I don’t know if I had a big part in it, but I know the impact I had on the team, guys look up to that,” King said. “Recruits who are coming around, like Russ Yeast out of Kentucky and Chevin out of Texas, top guys like that, guys who are corners, I want to inspire them. I want to be that person they look up to and show them that if I can do it, they can do it, too.”
Yeast is a 5-10, 180-pound athlete out of Greenwood, Ind. He recently named a top six — Auburn, Illinois, Iowa, Louisville, Ole Miss and Northwestern — but Alabama threw in an offer last week. Yeast will be in Iowa City this weekend for a tailgate event (a meet-and-greet where Iowa plays host to a bunch of prospects).
Ferentz encourages current players to interact with visiting recruits.
“Our best sales people are our players,” Ferentz said. “I always encourage recruits, don’t take our word for it, talk to our players and do that on every campus. That to me is the best way to really feel what an experience is going to be like.”
Part of King’s message to prospects is that you can get where you want to be in Iowa City. He has a roomful of all-America plaques and a Thorpe Award trophy that say you can be the top defensive back in the country and you can do that at Iowa.
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“There’s opportunity anywhere you go, I believe,” King said. “That’s one thing that I stuck with. Anywhere you go, there’s opportunity to seize the moment."