Iowa knows what it’s like to be tormented by Stefon Diggs.
The Minnesota Vikings wide receiver made NFL lore Sunday with his walk-off, 61-yard touchdown reception that gave his team a 29-24 NFC playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints.
It was, quite simply, one of the most-stunning plays in the sport’s history.
What Diggs did against the Iowa football team in 2014 wasn’t as memorable. Yes, I know. How could it be?
But Diggs did show why he had NFL potential when he took a short screen pass from Perry Hills and turned it into a 53-yard touchdown play in Maryland’s 38-31 win over Iowa in College Park, Md. That fella was fast. Still is.
The Hawkeyes led 14-0 in that game, but then Maryland’s offense got untracked. Diggs was quite a factor, with nine catches for 130 yards on his way to a 62-reception season.
The Tuesday before the game, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said his staff tried to recruit Diggs out of Gaithersburg, Md. The Hawkeyes did sign defensive backs Jordan Lomax and Miles Taylor from Maryland.
“He didn’t consider us,” Ferentz said. “I don’t know who it boiled down to outside of Maryland, but I know everybody in the world tried to recruit him. He’s just one of those guys that everybody knew about when he was in eighth grade. He’s just a really good player.”
That was his junior season. He left for the NFL the following spring. He was only a fifth-round draftee. It’s looking like quite a steal. The third-year pro had 64 catches for 849 yards and eight touchdowns in the regular season, and has 200 career receptions.
What he did Sunday in one play makes him one of the great fifth-round picks of all-time.
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Another fifth-rounder, defensive back Desmond King of Iowa, was one of many Hawkeyes frustrated by Diggs on the very well-blocked scoring play Diggs had against Iowa. King was a sophomore in 2014.
King also looks like a fifth-round bargain given the rookie season he had with the Los Angeles Chargers. He had 76 tackles, four quarterback sacks, and a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown.