Desmond King ties Nile Kinnick's record in victory

Chad Leistikow
Desmond King intercepts Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld's pass.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Desmond King’s interception prowess didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t come easy at Iowa, even though he had an astonishing 29 interceptions during his high school career in Detroit.

“Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t really know anything,” King said Saturday after No. 10 Iowa’s 35-27 win at Indiana. “I had a lot to study.”

The junior cornerback certainly has figured things out. He recorded his nation-high eighth interception during the fourth quarter Saturday, accounting for the only turnover of an up-and-down Big Ten Conference game. It was a leaping grab along the right sideline, and he got one foot in bounds. It looked like Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld was throwing to King, he read it so perfectly.

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That doesn’t come naturally. Sophomore safety Miles Taylor said it’s astonishing how much film King studies. He's looking at opposing offenses in his free time, on his off days.

A week ago, King’s 88-yard interception return against Maryland was a product of film study, too.

“Anybody that says hard work doesn’t pay off is a liar,” Taylor said. “You see it with Desmond.”

King’s eighth interception ties him with Nile Kinnick — yes, the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner for which Iowa’s home stadium is named — and Lou King (no relation, 1981) for the single-season school record. King will have at least four more games to try to break that record.

And given the pace he’s on, it would almost be shocking if he doesn’t get it. King now has 11 interceptions in his last 17 games as a Hawkeye, after starting his career with zero in his first 18. He’s started 34 games in a row.

His first interception went for a touchdown against Indiana last season. It’s been an avalanche since. He’s one of 16 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back. If he doesn’t get that, he’ll at least have a great shot at first-team all-American honors thanks to his 2015 ball-hawking.

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“As a freshman I had a lot of opportunities as well, but I didn’t play the ball as I am now,” King said. “That’s something I improved over the years.

“This year, it’s really taken off to a high level.”