Iowa's King Diggs Saturday's challenge at Maryland
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Iowa tried to recruit wide receiver Stefon Diggs out of Gaithersburg, Md.
"Yeah, but he didn't consider us," Iowa coach Kirk 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 8th grade. He's just a really good player."
Diggs, a junior, is a player the Hawkeyes need to slow down if they are to win at Maryland Saturday. And Iowa cornerback Desmond King is looking forward to the challenge.
"The biggest challenge is his quickness," King said. "I have to work on my technique, to make sure it's perfect. I know he's going to be a fast receiver off the line, and I'll have to be able to run with him step for step."
The 6-foot, 190-pound Diggs has 36 catches for 450 yards this season He's got 1,885 career yards, which ranks sixth best in Maryland history, with seven career games of 100-plus yards. But he won't be the first 1,000-yard receiver King has faced. Against LSU in the Outback Bowl last season, both Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr., had over 1,000 career yards.
King watched Landry, now with the Miami Dolphins, score his first career touchdown in a loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday. He's also caught glimpses of Beckham, who is expected to replace the injured Victor Cruz in the New York Giants' starting lineup.
"Facing guys like that, and seeing they made it to the NFL, gives me some confidence," King said. "But I know I still have work to do."
King has started the last 18 games at right cornerback for the Hawkeyes. Unlike the hotly recruited Diggs, King arrived at Iowa under the radar. He committed to two different Mid-American Conference schools before signing with the Hawkeyes.
"I'm going to be going against a great receiver," King said. "I've just got to have the mindset that I'm going to win this battle."
Diggs also returns kickoffs for Maryland, averaging 24.4 yards in 10 attempts. That's where the leg of Iowa's Marshall Koehn, who is second nationally in touchback percentage at 77.4 percent, could come in handy. Diggs is also second nationally among active FBS players in all-purpose yards per game with 146.42.
King is coming off his first career interception last week against Indiana. He picked off Nate Sudfeld's pass in the first quarter and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
"I just knew the ball was going to come my way at some point," King said. "Once it did, it was my chance to take it."
King looked like a receiver on the play, batting the ball in the air with one hand and then gathering it in as he headed for the end zone. Ferentz saw King make a similar one-handed play in practice the week of the Indiana game and asked him if he was showboating.
"He said no, the receiver had his left hand pinned down so he snatched it with his right hand," Ferentz said. "For a young guy he's doing a lot of good things out there. And he has potential to grow. It's exciting."