IOWA CITY — Micah Hyde liked to play sports when he was growing up in Fostoria, Ohio, a small town of around 14,000 in northwest Ohio.
He really liked to play sports. He played a lot of sports. Every sport. Any sport. Sports all day, all night. Sports, sports sports.
“We got an Xbox for Christmas one year,” the senior cornerback said. “I think we played it on Christmas day. After that, goodbye to the Xbox. I have an Xbox now and I hardly play it. I just watch DVDs on it.”
That’s because Hyde is still playing sports.
The 6-1, 190-pounder goes into Saturday’s matchup against Purdue (3-6, 0-5 Big Ten) as a three-year starter with seven career interceptions and 26 career pass breakups. Hyde has really shown up this season with career bests in tackles for loss (5), forced fumbles (2) and breakups (11). The breakups rank 24th in the country.
And he’ll likely have a chance to keep playing sports. NFLDraftScout.com has Hyde rated as a fifth rounder, going at No. 168 in April’s NFL draft. His punt return skills (6.2-yard average on 12 returns) and the fact that he has safety size will likely land him in the draft.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was asked a question about Iowa stockpiling former high school wrestlers on its roster. He made a point about the simple art of competition and used Hyde as the example.
“A guy like Micah Hyde . . . So many guys don’t have good ball skills anymore because the video games don’t really help develop those skills,” Ferentz said, “but Micah Hyde, I’m guessing when he was a kid he’d go out in backyard and shoot baskets or play catch, things like that.
“I think that’s a real positive. Plus, guys are competing, which I know Xbox is nitty gritty, but it’s not quite the same as competing against real people.”
Hyde played sports in Fostoria. He had his brother, Marcus, a former defensive back at Michigan State, and a close group of friends. Sports and sports and sports. From after school until the night sky descended.
“We’d play all night, every day,” Hyde said. “I don’t remember being in the house, to be honest. We were always outside playing some game. Soccer, football, basketball, baseball. We did everything possible.”
His high school team was the Fostoria Redmen. Hyde said the town’s population took a major hit while he grew up there, something in the range of 60,000 to 14,000. Industry faded away. People moved to Findlay, a little bigger town with more opportunities.
“Cleveland is an hour and a half away,” Hyde said. “Toledo is 45 minutes. Columbus is an hour and 45 minutes. You have these big cities around you, it was exciting. We had a lot of great athletes come through. Sports were fun and they were competitive.”
Hyde listed Ohio State basketball player Aaron Craft and former Buckeye Jon Diebler. His brother, himself. Sports might’ve been fun, they were definitely competitive.
“I loved the city of Fostoria,” Hyde said.
With an older brother and a close group of friends, sports were about the only thing to do. When Hyde was a senior, 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. He also played every down on defense. And he returned kickoffs. And returned punts. And he did his team’s punting.
Sports, sports, sports. Football, football, football.
“I remember coming off the field one time,” said Hyde, who’ll make his 36th consecutive career start for the Hawkeyes (4-5, 2-3). “It was my freshman year when I messed up my back or something. My brother went in and took some snaps at quarterback. That’s pretty much the only time I came off the field.”
The numbers are ridiculous. Hyde totaled 165 tackles, eight interceptions and seven passes defended as a corner. He had 549 carries for 3,443 yards and 46 touchdowns. He completed 606 of 997 passes for 7,864 yards and 65 touchdowns. And he connected on 108 PATs. He holds 17 school records.
He misses being kicker.
“Yeah, I do, actually,” Hyde said. “I was in here the other day with Mike [Iowa kicker Mike Meyer]. I was trying to stir him up.”
Do you still have it?
“I kicked a 45-yarder on the very first try. Everything after that, I was shanking it all over the place. I should’ve stopped after the 45-yarder. I like to think I still have it, though.”
You probably remember earlier this year when Hyde was arrested and charged with public intoxication and interference with official acts on the weekend of Iowa’s off weekend, Oct. 6. He has since pleaded guilty to the interference and not guilty to public intox.
Hyde had been named captain the first five weeks of the season. For the last four weeks, he lost that designation.
Ferentz began his news conference this week by naming Hyde captain this week.
“That is one of the penalties he faced; he had several,” Ferentz said. “So, that part has been paid, now he’s eligible again. It’s kind of a no‑brainer. Micah is a tremendous young guy, a tremendous football player.”
The captain’s role matters to a ballplayer. Hyde was captain at Fostoria his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
“It’s an honor to be a captain on this team. It means you’re doing something right,” Hyde said. “The players vote, the coaches have a say in it, too. It’s an honor.”
Exactly what a ballplayer would say.