Iowa City, Ia. — This time, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz isn’t against tinkering with success — even if it means moving a top defender from a position where he starred to a position he hasn’t played since high school.
“If anyone can do it, it’s Micah,” tailback Marcus Coker said, glancing and winking at Hyde outside the Iowa practice bubble Friday.
Micah Hyde acknowledged for the first time that he’s switching to a wide-open safety position, from cornerback, where he returned two interceptions last season for touchdowns.
“When the coaches came to me with the idea of changing, they said it would be best for the team if I switched positions,” Hyde said during his first interview since the position switch.
“I had some success last year as a corner, now I’m hoping to have the same success as a safety.”
The change happened because last season’s starting safeties — Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood — are gone. Sash left after his junior season for the NFL draft and Greenwood was a 2010 senior.
Coaches scoured the roster, and determined that Hyde switching was the best option.
“We might fool around with that,” Ferentz said during a press conference when spring practice started. “We’re just going to look for the best combinations.”
The move stuck.
Hyde will be the starting free safety when the Hawkeyes host Tennessee Tech on Sept. 3.
“He’s been doing great back there,” starting cornerback Shaun Prater said last week. “He’s a natural.
“I see Micah back there backpedaling … he just makes it look so easy. I see good things coming out of him from that position.”
Hyde started 13 games last season at corner, where he totaled 82 tackles and four interceptions, including two he turned into touchdowns.
The first was a 66-yarder in a 31-point win against Michigan State, and the other was a game-clinching 72-yarder with 5½ minutes to play in a 27-24 win against Missouri in the Insight Bowl.
“Coaches talked to me about it when I got back from winter break,” said Hyde, a junior in the fall. “They asked how did I feel about doing it, and I said whatever helps the team.”
The learning curve includes not only knowing his new responsibilities, but also what others around him are doing.
“At free safety, you’re a lot like the middle linebacker,” said Hyde, who will play alongside a starting strong safety to be determined later.
“You have to know what’s going on all around you. You’re the quarterback of the defense.”
“Played that in high school,” Hyde said. “I love to have my hands on the ball.”
“I’ve been taking some catches back there, but nothing serious,” he said.
Where’s he going to play in 2012?
“I can’t tell you where I’ll be,” he said. “I might be on the D-line.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football