By LUKE MEREDITH, AP Sports Writer
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There were few bright spots for Iowa last season as the Hawkeyes stumbled to their worst record in more than a decade.
The struggles didn't include the play of CB Micah Hyde.
Hyde closed out a stellar career by being named the Big Ten's defensive back of the year for 2012. He was also the only Iowa player to be named a first-team All-Big Ten pick by the league's coaches and media members.
"It was good that some people recognized me, and it was an honor to get that award. Obviously they respect my game," Hyde said.
Hyde hopes the NFL comes to feel the same way. The three-year starter at cornerback is perhaps Iowa's most promising NFL prospect this spring.
Hyde won the Big Ten honor despite intercepting just one pass this season as teams often thought better of attacking his side of the field. He did have a team-high 14 pass breakups to go with three fumble recoveries and a pair of forced fumbles.
Hyde has good size for a cornerback at 6-foot-1 and just over 190 pounds, and he's got plenty of positive game film for scouts to pore over dating to 2009. But Hyde has a lot of work ahead of him over the next three months, so he's signed up with the TEST Football Academy in San Diego to prepare for the scouting combine and April draft.
"The last year I ran the 40 (meter dash) was my sophomore year in college. I ran (in) 4.5 (seconds), and I know I'm faster than that," Hyde said. "It's basically everything. To get stronger, to get faster."
The Hawkeyes have had a decent run of defensive backs who've reached the NFL in recent years like Carolina's Charles Godfrey, Amari Spievey of Detroit and Tyler Sash of the New York Giants.
Hyde's college career can stand up with any of his recent Iowa peers. He was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten pick in 2010 while playing alongside Sash, and his 72-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter sealed a win over Missouri in the Insight Bowl.
Hyde started a pair of games at free safety the following year. His size and play-making ability seemed to make the move a logical one — and Hyde could end up playing safety at the next level — but the Hawkeyes moved him back to cornerback out of necessity. He finished his Iowa career as the veteran leader of a defense whose issues extended far beyond anything Hyde could fix.
Hyde also stumbled personally for the first and only time with the Hawkeyes.
He was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and interference with official acts in early October. Coach Kirk Ferentz stripped him of his captaincy, but cited Hyde's track record of positive behavior in not suspending him.
Hyde said Ferentz did force him to face reporters a few days later and explain his mistake.
"He knew exactly what happened. He knew that I'm not a bad individual," Hyde said of Ferentz. "He told me to keep my nose clean, don't get in trouble again. It was unfortunate. It could have been a huge deal."
Hyde also returned punts at Iowa and should be able to offer versatility in both special teams and the defensive backfield. Hyde will certainly be missed by the Hawkeyes, who are in full-fledged rebuilding mode after a 4-8 season that surprised even Hyde.
He's optimistic a more experienced defense will help Iowa bounce back next fall.
"I wouldn't worry about it, to be honest. The defense is coming up," Hyde said. "Yeah, we had a bad season this year. But it's only going to make more guys that much more hungry."
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