ARTICLE

Hyde for another year

Purdue quarterback Robert Marve, left, is tackled while attempting to stretch the ball towards the end zone by Iowa's Micah Hyde during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in West Lafayette, Ind. (AP Photo/Journal & Courier, Brent Drinkut)
Purdue quarterback Robert Marve, left, is tackled while attempting to stretch the ball towards the end zone by Iowa's Micah Hyde during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in West Lafayette, Ind. (AP Photo/Journal & Courier, Brent Drinkut)

IOWA CITY -- OK, it might be a stretch, but when ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper tweets your name, the NFL question is bound to follow.

In the wake of Iowa's defeat at Penn State on Oct. 8, Kiper took notice of Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde.

"Really have been impressed with the play of Iowa's JR CB Micah Hyde," Kiper wrote on his Twitter account. "Instinctive, with excellent ball skills & will support the run."

That's Mel Kiper and that's ESPN. Here's what Hyde, who's a junior, by the way, said about the NFL:

"That's not really a hard decision for me right now, at all," Hyde said. "I don't even think about that, at all. I've still got a couple of more games this season, but I'm definitely coming back for my season. I'm not even worried about that at all.

"Hopefully, that's first and last time you ask me that question, because I still have a couple of games left. I'm not even worried about that, the NFL, right now. I'm a college football player."

Productivity and versatility put Hyde on the NFL radar. After two seasons as a corner, he switched to safety at the beginning of this season. But after Iowa State worked over the Hawkeyes' secondary in week 2, cornerback Greg Castillo and safety Collin Sleeper were replaced and Hyde ended up back at corner.

The plan for this year really was for Hyde to play safety.

"I thought I was going to be playing safety," Hyde said. "It changed, it's what's best for the team. We have a couple more games to improve as a secondary. I think we've taken some huge strides, but it's not over yet."

He's tied with free safety Tanner Miller for the team lead with three interceptions. Hyde also leads the Hawkeyes with 10 pass breakups, and he's fifth on the team with 61 tackles.

Hyde also has shown some thump. Last week at Purdue, he jarred the ball loose from quarterback Robert Marve as he reached out for the pylon to pull the Boilermakers within three points, 31-28. The play was ruled a fumble after review, calling for a touchback and Iowa ball at its 20.

"He's been showing up this whole season," senior cornerback Shaun Prater said.

Prater went through a draft decision last season. He submitted his name to the NFL Draft Advisory committee and it came back with a projection of later than the third round and some areas NFL scouts were interested in seeing. One of those was more man coverage. Iowa is a fairly strict zone defense scheme. Prater asked for more chances in man coverage, and secondary coach Phil Parker listened, at least a little bit.

"The coaches said they've been doing their schemes for 13 years and they're not going to change for one player," Prater said. "I just said, in certain formations, if there's a chance for me to play man coverage, I'm just saying I can, if you want me to."

Hyde was along for the same ride. What is that debate, school vs. NFL, like?

"Us being college players, we don't know anything about the next level," Prater said. "We don't know what scouts are thinking. Three or four years ago, we were in high school and coming to college. We don't know much. We try to do the job and try to be the best players we can."