Desmond King '50-50' on whether he'll return to Iowa

Chad Leistikow
Iowa's Desmond King hypes up the crowd a 31-15 win over Maryland.

LOS ANGELES — Desmond King says he’s “50-50” on whether he’ll return to Iowa for his senior year or turn pro after Friday’s Rose Bowl.

“I'm thinking about staying. There's a good chance,” the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back said Monday morning. “But right now I honestly don't know what my decision is. It goes back and forth every time.”

One of the key elements to determining King’s draft value is hearing back from the NFL advisory board, which was created to give college underclassmen an idea of where they’d be picked — if at all — in the seven-round draft. The board evaluates each early-draft candidate who asks for a grade and can answer by putting a student-athlete in one of three categories — first round, second round or neither (i.e., stay in school).

Head coach Kirk Ferentz had said that advisory board information usually comes back around the holidays — “seems like they call about 5 o’clock on the 24th," he joked — but King said Monday he hadn’t received their feedback.

The financial difference between the first round and later rounds is significant. Mid-to-late first-rounders in the 2015 draft got four-year contracts worth between $6 million and $10 million of guaranteed money. In the second round, guaranteed money slips to between $1 million and $3 million.

A year ago, Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis was billed as a possible late first-rounder. He wound up going late in the third round to the Baltimore Ravens and signed for $3 million over four years, with just more than $600,000 of that guaranteed.

And without an advisory recommendation yet, you can understand why King remains in limbo. He isn’t required to make a final decision until Jan. 18, the deadline to apply for early-draft eligibility.

His mom, Yvette Powell, wants him to stay in school. He would become the first member of his family to graduate from college if he can complete his degree in mass communications, but he’s only a third-year junior.

“Whatever's best for me and my family right now,” said King, a Detroit native. “Even though it's a big part of me being a part of my team, it still comes down to what's best for my family.

“Yeah, mom. I mean, she wants me to stay. At the same time, she wants what's best for me. So it's a 50-50 chance. I don't know which way I could go with it. It's pretty hard.”

King doesn’t have a lot more to prove at the college level. His eight interceptions this season rank second nationally and have tied a school record held by Nile Kinnick and Lou King. He is still looking for that elusive ninth pick-off — having gone four straight games without one since getting No. 8 on Nov. 7 at Indiana.

“Once you get close to it, it gets harder and harder,” King said. “But at the same time, I believe it's going to come.”

Asked about what more he could do convince NFL people he’s ready to play in the league, King pointed to Friday’s 4 p.m. CT matchup against No. 5 Stanford and fourth-year starting quarterback Kevin Hogan.

“I would say my main performance is in this game,” King said. “I hope to show a lot in this game, especially with the opponent that we have, Stanford, and the great players that they have over there.”

Defensive coordinator Phil Parker, 52, said he would provide his “two cents” to King after the Rose Bowl, but the 29th-year coach plans to communicate that the NFL is completely different. He also is likely to provide a reminder of this stat: Of the 107 players who declared early for the 2014 NFL Draft, 45 went undrafted.

“It's not going to be the same going from a college environment to the NFL,” Parker said. “It's a totally different game, and it's a totally different chemistry. It becomes a job instead of an activity that you have a passion for.”