Daily Herald
DT King, Hawkeyes not lacking motivation
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 8/14/2008 3:59 PM

With his shoulder-length blond hair parted down the middle, Mitch King looks prepared for the day when Hollywood asks him to portray a partying Gregg Allman in his early 20s.

In the meantime, while Tinseltown tracks down his cell number, Iowa's all-Big Ten defensive tackle looks ready and willing to jump on a Harley and leave motorcycle tracks on the next sportswriter who asks about the Hawkeyes' recent penchant for lawlessness.

But such menacing assumptions are tabled once King begins to speak.

While it might be overstating it slightly to term the 6-foot-3, 280-pound senior a softie, King cares deeply about what's most important to his fellow Iowans these days.

In the wake of the tornadoes and floods that ravaged the Hawkeye State this summer, there's more to worry about than where his next tackle for loss is coming.

King's mother, Tammy, is among the Iowa City residents whose home became uninhabitable thanks to the floods.

"It's crazy," King said. "In Parkersburg, there's nothing left. It's sad. And then the flooding? There's not as much destruction, but there's diseases in the water and people are getting sick. Thousands of people in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City lost their homes, you know?

"It gives me chills to think that they lost everything they had, but most of them guys will be watching us on Saturdays come the fall. That means something to me."

It's not like the Hawks needed another reason to motivate themselves to improve.

Iowa, which had more than its share of injuries, finished 6-6 and missed a bowl for the first time since 2000 because it blew the regular-season finale to Western Michigan. At home.

And when they weren't losing on the field, they lost sight of how society wants them to behave. Eighteen Hawkeyes have been arrested since April 2007, though few have been in the last six months.

"As weird as this sounds, it's brought the team closer together," King said. "We're holding everybody accountable. We're calling kids out."

Now it's a matter of finding six defensive starters, a kicker and, most important, a running back.

The only one in the stable with a collegiate resume is junior Shonn Greene, who rushed for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns in his first two seasons before spending the 2007-08 school year in academic exile.

"We'll welcome getting him back in the equation," said 10th-year coach Kirk Ferentz.