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In 20 years at Iowa, Phil Parker has coached defensive backs for 19 ... including guys like Bob Sanders, Micah Hyde and Desmond King. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

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One of the best defensive backs in Iowa football history will be on hand for the Hawkeyes’ senior-day game against Illinois as the team’s honorary captain.

Desmond King, who won the 2015 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back, will be at Kinnick  Stadium for Saturday’s 11 a.m. contest between the Hawkeyes (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten Conference) and Illinois (6-4, 4-3).

King’s NFL team, the Los Angeles Chargers, are on their lone idle week, which affords one of the best stories of the Kirk Ferentz era to return to Iowa City.

A lightly recruited defensive back out of Detroit, King tied Iowa’s single-season record for interceptions in 2015 (with eight) and was a consensus all-American. He owns Iowa’s record for career starts, with 51, and is tied for fourth in career interceptions (14). King was thrown into action in Iowa’s 2013 opener against Northern Illinois as a true freshman, then started the next week and never looked back.

King’s presence is interesting, because he chose to stay in school following his record-setting junior season of 2015. Although he ended up being a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, King was NFL-ready and in the 2018 season was named first-team all-pro cornerback and second-team all-pro return specialist by The Associated Press.

Iowa has two high-profile underclassmen, in defensive end A.J. Epenesa and offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs, who will soon be making their NFL decisions.

The Hawkeyes have pulled out some heavy hitters as honorary captains this year: Bob Stoops, Ricky Stanzi, Bob Sanders ... and now King.

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