Micah HydeThe past few years Iowa has used a receiver as the primary punt returner. Andy Brodell and Colin Sandeman had some success at the position, didn't really make mistakes, but other than Brodell's game clinching TD against Iowa State neither were too flashy. Micah Hyde has a chance to change that.
As a defensive back, Hyde hasn't had the chance to get the ball in his hands very often. But when he did, good things happened. None was bigger than his fourth quarter interception against Missouri in the Insight Bowl. After the pick, he weaved his way through the Tigers and returned the ball 72 yards for the winning score.
Hyde's other touchdown of the season was equally as memorable, though not as impactful to the outcome of the game.
Thought, not officially listed as a punt returner yet ( was list on the initial spring depth chart), Hyde makes the most sense. For one, you're not putting your top receiver at risk. Also, if Hyde's move to free safety is permanent (though in Norm's presser today it sounds like it might not be), then he would be in the ideal position to just drop back deep to take the punts.
Iowa likes to run punt safe a lot of the time (with the unfortunate exception against Wisconsin in the 4th quarter) favoring that over bringing in a special teams unit. Last year, they would run off a safety for Sandeman. With Hyde at safety, there would be no need for that substitution.
Way too early prediction:
Sandeman averaged a respectable 8.3 yards per punt return last year, but his long was just 21 yards. Hyde will have a similar average return, however will break a couple of long returns including 2 for TDs.
3 Others to WatchKeenan Davis - Davis should be the primary kick returner now that DJK is gone. He has repeatedly been praised for his athleticism, so this could be the year he starts to show it.
Eric Guthrie - A fifth year senior stuck his entire career behind a heckuva punter in Ryan Donahue. Guthrie has been waiting his turn and should be ready to take over.
Nico Law - There will be a lot of open spot on the coverage teams this fall and incoming freshmen will get their first shots on the field in these units. I think Law could be a pretty good gunner and make a lot of plays here.