IOWA CITY, Ia. – Nobody would blame Jordan Lomax for being a little moody.
He opened Iowa's 2013 football season as a starting cornerback, but suffered a hamstring injury in the second half of the first game.
What may have hurt Lomax more was watching Desmond King, his freshman replacement, emerge as a cornerstone of the Hawkeyes' pass-coverage.
"Naturally, anybody in that position would be like, 'Man, that could have been me,''' Lomax said. "But at the end of the day, you've got to think about the team. The team was moving in the right direction, so if I had gotten down on myself and had a negative attitude, it probably would have brought the team down.
"You've got to grow up. You've got to fight it. You've got to own it as a man."
Lomax now owns a starting spot at free safety, where he'll be directing traffic during Iowa's 2014 opener against Northern Iowa.
"I think he's coming right along," coach Kirk Ferentz said. "He's not the most vocal guy, naturally, but I think he's doing a good job with that.
"He works at it really hard."
The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Lomax prefers to speak softly and deliver a big wallop.
"I really understand the defense better than I did in the spring," said Lomax, a junior from Upper Marlboro, Md., "And my teammates are continuing to help me grow.
"Them running to the ball just gives me that fire to go out and do whatever I have to do to help out."
Lomax took a more clinical approach when dealing with last year's demotion. He became a mentor to King, even though Lomax was relegated to a reserve role.
"If somebody steps in and they continue to perform well, they get the job," Lomax explained. "All credit to him. He did a tremendous job. Not a lot of freshmen can come in with the mental toughness and the physical toughness he did.
"I give all the respect to him for being able to do that."
King and Lomax are hoping to spend more time together this fall, on the field.
"We're still good friends," Lomax said. "We're really cool. We both encourage each other, help each other.
"There is no bitterness."
King is the Hawkeyes' most dependable cornerback, while Lomax is accepting more responsibility.
"At free safety, you have to know the entire game plan," Lomax said. "You have to know what everybody on the defense is doing, because it's your job to put them in the right play call.
"So you have to have that mental toughness to be able to get through it."
Lomax, an economics major, hopes to carry over some of the things he's learned in the class room.
"In economics, you're always thinking about your competitors," he said. "What are they going to do, and what are you going to do as a response to help your company have the best outcome?
"You see guys moving around and you've got to think, 'What is the best response function, due to the offense?'"