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The Iowa cornerback set a school record for starts (51) and games (53).

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TAMPA, Fla. — Thousands of Iowa fans at Raymond James Stadium stayed until the bitter end of Monday’s 30-3 Outback Bowl loss to Florida.

As the clock wound down and after it expired, they cheered the Hawkeye seniors who had played their final game. The biggest ovation was for Desmond King.

A year ago at this time, a lot of Hawkeye fans wondered if he would enter the NFL Draft a season early after winning the Jim Thorpe Award. Instead, the all-America cornerback chose to return for one more go-round.

“The four years I’ve been here was fantastic,” King said. “There’s nothing I (regret) from that. I’m 100 percent with the decision to come back to the University of Iowa and get my degree and to lead this team the right way. I feel it came out positive.”

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In King, one of the Hawkeye greats is departing.

Not only did King set school records in career starts (51) and games (53) by suiting up Monday, he recorded the 14th interception of his Hawkeye career, tied with Damien Robinson for fourth on the all-time list.

He snatched a Parker Hesse-deflected pass in the first quarter while lying on his back. That play set up Iowa’s only three points and served as a reminder of just how badly King will be missed in 2017.

That’s not to mention he was Iowa’s best offensive player not named Akrum Wadley despite not playing offense. King’s 49-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter put Iowa into Florida territory.

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"It didn't turn out like we wanted it to turn out," King said. "At the same time, I think we all went out there and played our hearts out."

A lot of key contributors are moving on. Some to the NFL, like King. He's got the Senior Bowl next, and then the NFL Scouting Combine. C.J. Beathard, Cole Croston, LeShun Daniels Jr., George Kittle and others will try for the NFL, too.

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Others, like receiver Riley McCarron, are walking away from football. The receiver has an accounting job lined up to start in a few weeks.

"Certainly we're disappointed to lose, but it doesn't define this football team. This team has been great to work with. They've had a lot of good moments on and off the field," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "They've done an outstanding job, and that all starts with our seniors."

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