CHICAGO — You know the Iowa Hawkeyes’ Micah Hyde as a defensive back, and a very good one. His hometown remembers him as quite a bit more.
When Hyde was a senior at Fostoria (Ohio) High School in 2008, his team earned its first state playoff win in 12 years. Hyde threw two touchdown passes. He ran for two touchdowns. And he kicked two field goals.
Yes, he also played every down on defense in the Redmen’s 33-12 victory over Sparta Highland. And he returned kickoffs. And returned punts. And he did his team’s punting.
As a junior, Hyde was first-team Northern Ohio Conference at quarterback, deep back and place-kicker. He was a mere honorable mention at punter. As a senior, he was first-team at QB and DB, second-team at punter.
Friday at the Big Ten football media day, I asked Hyde if he ever yearned to kick or punt as a Hawkeye. He said no.
“I think we’ve got some guys who handle that better than I do,” he said.
Hyde sat just one table away from Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz Friday morning in a hotel ballroom. It didn’t require any prodding for Ferentz to gush abut his senior cornerback.
“We all feel like Micah could have played receiver or defensive back,” Ferentz said. “He’s been a returner for us.
“He’s a gym rat. Believe it or not, there are less and less of those out there now. Technology’s had something to do with that.
“I’ve got a vision of him going out in the backyard and throwing a footbal around with his brother and buddies, shooting hoops, doing those sorts of things.”
That vision would be correct. Hyde was also a first-team all-conference basketball and baseball player. He averaged 22 points a game in basketball his senior season.
But this was always a football player first and foremost. He threw, he ran, he kicked, and he hit.
He set school records for touchdown passes in a season and a career. He threw for 7,864 yards and 65 touchdowns, rushed for 3,443 yards and 46 TDs, made 165 tackles and 108 PAT kicks, and picked off eight opponents’ passes. Phew.
“I didn’t want to come off the field,” Hyde said. “After my freshman year (at Fostoria), I can’t remember one play when I wasn’t on the field. Maybe there was, but I do not remember one.”
But where was Ohio State when it came to recruiting Hyde? Columbus is just 96 miles south of Fostoria? Where was Michigan? Ann Arbor is just 100 miles north of Fostoria?
Where was Michigan State? Hyde’s brother, Marcus Hyde, was a second-team All-Big Ten safety for the Spartans in 2010 as a senior. Why wouldn’t MSU Coach Mark Dantonio have wanted another chip off that Fostoria block?
“I think I was under the radar, to be honest,” Micah Hyde said. “To be honest, I really don’t know. I wasn’t a highly recruited guy. That’s how it’s been my whole life.
“When I was on my out to (visit) Iowa, I got a call from my brother. He told me ‘I just talked to Coach D (Dantonio) and he wants you if he can’t get another guy.’ I wanted to go somewhere the coach definitely wants me. Iowa had been talking to me every week, not like some coaches who called one week and got back to me two or three weeks later.
“After I took my visit to Iowa, it was set in stone that I was going there.”
It didn’t hurt that his high school coach, Tom Grine, was a tight end who lettered at Iowa from 1974 to 1976, but Hyde used to tune Grine out when Grine sang Iowa City’s praises. Hyde grew up an Ohio State fan, He took unofficial recruiting visits there. However, the Buckeyes never returned the interest, and Hyde’s ears opened when Iowa called.
“Ohio State can’t have everybody,” Ferentz said.
To win at Iowa, you’ve got to spot some recruiting gems from other states earlier than most and you must see things in some players that other recruiters may be missing. Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker liked Hyde a lot, and liked him early.
“We did think he was flying under the radar,” Ferentz said. “But once you meet him a little bit and get to know him, you’re so impressed with him.
“We all feel like Micah could have played receiver or defensive back. He’s been a returner for us.
“He’s the kind of guy you want to have, very positive, enthusiastic, a genuine young man. It’s hard to catch him having a bad day. Some people say it’s the coaches’ job to pick the team up, but it’s nice to have players who pick coaches up sometimes, too. Micah’s that kind of guy.”
But Hyde is also a player, playmaker and team-leader. As he enters this senior season, Michigan and Michigan State will be fully aware of his skills.