Aug. 6, 2012
Editor's note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Monday, Aug. 6, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2012-13 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Remembering Micah Hyde as a playmaker on the football field is like remembering Herky as a hawk, or the Pope as Catholic.
From the moment Hyde stepped on campus at the University of Iowa in 2009, big plays seemed to happen whenever he touched a ball.
"Micah is either real lucky or he has a sense of being around the ball, which makes him a good player," UI defensive coordinator Phil Parker said.
Here is Hyde's personal favorite: on Oct. 30, 2010, a throng of friends and family gathered inside Kinnick Stadium as Iowa hosted undefeated and fifth-ranked Michigan State. The starting strong safety for the Spartans was Marcus Hyde, Micah's older brother. With 10 seconds left in the first quarter (and the Hawkeyes leading 10-0), Iowa's Tyler Sash intercepted a Kirk Cousins pass. Sash returned the ball six yards, and with intended receiver B.J. Cunningham closing in, he pitched the ball to Hyde. Hyde covered the final 66 yards, broke four tackles, and dove into the end zone with his airborne body parallel to the turf as he stretched the ball inside the pylon. Iowa never looked back during a 37-6 win.
"It was a big game, all my family was here, and I was playing against my brother," said Hyde, a senior cornerback. "I have bragging rights to this day. I'm 2-0 against him. That would have to be my favorite play."
In the first matchup between the Hydes, Micah and the Hawkeyes prevailed, 15-13, in 2009.
Later in the 2010 season, the Hawkeyes were taking on No. 12 Missouri in the Insight Bowl. Tiger quarterback Blaine Gabbert attempted 57 passes that night, but made two mistakes. The first came with 28 seconds left in the first half when Brett Greenwood intercepted a pass in the Hawkeye end zone. The second came with just under six minutes left in the game and Missouri clinging to a 24-20 lead. Gabbert was flushed out of the pocket and headed toward the left sideline. He intended to flip the ball to receiver Wes Kemp, but Hyde stepped in front, picked off the pass, reversed field, broke a couple tackles, and scored the game-winning points in 27-24 Iowa victory. Hyde was named the game's defensive MVP.
"The No. 1 thing is there is no way I would have done it without the players I've been around," Hyde said. "With the majority of the plays, it wasn't just me. I may have gotten the interception in the Insight Bowl, but everybody was blocking."
"I'll give credit to the coaches, it comes so naturally," Hyde said. "I can hardly remember the plays because I was so into the game and well-coached on those plays. I couldn't have done it without the coaching I had or the other defensive players I was with."
A true senior, Hyde is on track to graduate in May 2013, with a degree in recreation and sports business. When his playing career is over, he wants to found a nonprofit organization, an idea he hatched during a sports business class at the UI.
"I want to help less fortunate children with sports equipment," Hyde said. "It has always been my dream to help young children. Growing up, I played with kids who had horrible basketball shoes or didn't play a sport because they didn't have money."
Hyde, a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder, was raised in Fostoria, Ohio, a town of 13,000 located 40 miles southeast of Toledo. His high school coach was Tom Grine, a football letterwinner for the Hawkeyes from 1974-76. Hyde joked that he and his brother spent most of their time outside playing sports (their mother, Pamela Hampton, didn't want them messing up the house, he said with a smile).
"To this day, I hardly play video games," Hyde said. "I was always at a friend's house -- playing basketball, playing baseball, never inside. I did it all growing up: football, basketball, baseball, soccer."
Hyde was a talented multisport high school athlete performing off the beaten path in the heart of Big Ten Conference country. The majority of his scholarship offers were from mid-major universities. In other words, an ideal Hawkeye recruit.
"Six times I went to the high school and I tried to schedule the visits around when he was practicing basketball," Parker said. "Micah was a leader on the basketball court, too. He had the leadership qualities we were looking for. You look for those guys who play multiple sports, and I always knew he had a knack to make plays; he did in high school, and he continues to do it here."
Hyde and his mother were fond of Parker and the Hawkeyes, even though big brother Marcus had already started his career at Michigan State.
"I wanted to go Big Ten and Iowa was there every week," Hyde said. "During the recruiting process there are a lot of schools that come and go. Coach Parker recruited me and every week he was either in or calling me up and asking how I was doing and how my family was doing. My mom really loved coach Parker, and I felt like family since day one."
Hyde compiled eight tackles in 13 games as a freshman, playing primarily special teams. He has started the last 26 games, where he has registered 154 tackles, 15 pass breakups and seven interceptions.
"Micah is very coachable," Parker said. "He listens and never repeats mistakes that he has made. He has good footwork, and I think that came from playing multiple sports. He has unbelievable hands."
Hands that could be catching punts for a second season: a year ago, Hyde returned 13 punts for 106 yards and a long of 30.
"I really enjoy punt return," Hyde said. "I'm hoping this year I can make a bigger impact than I did last year. I've been practicing that a lot harder."
During his final go-around at the UI, Hyde intends to work and lead like never before.
"I want to let everybody know that I'm out here to lead the team and all they have to do is follow," Hyde said. "I can't say we're going to go undefeated, but every year we've had a great representation of seniors that represent our team well, and they're all leaders."
Being a playmaker isn't the only way Hyde wants to be remembered.
"I want to be remembered as a person that tried my hardest," he said. "I want to be remembered as being the best team player I could possibly be -- helping my teammates out on any given play."