IOWA CITY – All Micah Hyde wants is a chance to play the game.
That’s nothing new for an old-school player living in an Xbox world.
“I grew up in the backyard playing sports," Hyde said. “Football. Basketball. Baseball. Back home, that’s what we did. We were always playing games."
The Iowa cornerback doesn’t want that to end.
When the NFL Draft begins Thursday, Hyde hopes to add to the list of Hawkeye defensive backs who have been selected in recent years.
At least one Iowa defensive back has been picked in each of the past five drafts. Most analysts view Hyde as a late-round selection in the three-day, seven-round draft in New York City.
Hyde, who has split time between draft preparations and working toward completing his degree in recreation and sports management, will watch the draft with family and friends in his hometown of Fostoria, Ohio.
“It’s pretty much a waiting game now," Hyde said. “It’s an exciting time, something you dream of growing up. I’ve worked hard to put my best out there, and hopefully that will be good enough. I want to keep playing."
At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Hyde has the build of the prototypical NFL safety – a position he played as a junior at Iowa – but has displayed the skill of the cornerback spot he filled last season and as a sophomore.
He finished his college career with 240 tackles, averaging 6.5 per game last season, and eight interceptions. He ranked fourth among Big Ten players last fall with 1.22 pass break-ups per game.
Hyde also ranked fourth in the Big Ten in punt returns, averaging 7.4 yards per return, to add to his value to NFL teams.
“He’s a guy who has gone up against some pretty good receivers and held up pretty well throughout his career,’’ ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “He’s got the size, has adequate speed and he makes plays. He’s flashed the ability to go out and make plays in big points in games, and I like that about him."
Hyde put himself in front of scouts at the East-West Shrine Game, at the NFL Combine and at Iowa’s pro day in addition to holding private workouts for a handful of teams.
The Big Ten defensive back of the year said NFL personnel have talked to him about the possibility of playing corner, safety and working on special teams. He has told each that he is willing to play wherever he is needed.
“I think that is something that I have to offer," Hyde said. "I’m pretty versatile and I’m going to do my best wherever they need me."
He was asked about an October incident in Iowa City in which Hyde was charged with public intoxication and interference with official acts.
Hyde, whose case has yet to be resolved, said he told NFL personnel what happened and what he learned from the situation.
It was all part of a pre-draft experience he found to be eye-opening.
“I’ve always been a team guy, but all of a sudden I’m in a position where I’ve had to market myself, sell my abilities and myself to people," Hyde said.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz believes Hyde has a chance to be drafted.
“So many guys don’t have good ball skills anymore because the video games don’t really help them develop those skills," Ferentz said. “But Micah Hyde, I’m guessing, when he was a kid he’d go out in the backyard and shoot baskets or play catch, that kind of thing."
Hyde was a versatile multi-sport athlete in Fostoria. His brother, Marcus, played in the defensive backfield at Michigan State and close friend, Aaron Craft, plays basketball at Ohio State.
“We got an Xbox for Christmas one year. I think we played it on Christmas day, and after that it was pretty much goodbye to the Xbox," Hyde said. “I have one now, but I hardly play it. I just watch DVDs on it."
Instead, Hyde competed.
“We’d play all night, every day," Hyde said, recalling how he and Craft competed against their older brothers. “I don’t remember being in the house. We were always outside playing some game, soccer, football, basketball, baseball. We did everything we could."