IOWA CITY – Phil Parker has been through it before.
The Iowa defensive coordinator watched and waited two years ago as Desmond King weighed his options, ultimately choosing to return to the Hawkeyes for his senior season.
Now, junior cornerback Josh Jackson faces the same decision after sharing the NCAA lead with seven interceptions with Lukas Dennis of Pinstripe Bowl opponent Boston College.
“He’s grown every day he’s been here,’’ Parker said Monday. “He had an excellent season.’’
The season positioned Jackson to be at the crossroads he finds himself at as the Hawkeyes work toward their Dec. 27 game at Yankee Stadium.
A first-year starter, Jackson is listed as a potential first-round selection in the 2018 NFL draft on early lists compiled by a number of draft experts.
His stock soared as he recorded five interceptions on big stages in two games against top-six opponents, picking off three passes in a win over third-rated Ohio State and returning two interceptions for touchdowns in a loss the following week at sixth-ranked Wisconsin.
As was the case with King, Parker knows that ultimately the decision rests with Jackson and his family.
Parker views his role as one to be supportive of Jackson in whatever decision he ultimately reaches.
He will work to present Jackson with as many facts as he can collect from NFL teams, working to present an accurate picture of where he might fit into this year’s draft class.
“At the end of the day, it is a decision he will make with his family. They will have to decide what is best for Josh,’’ Parker said. “I’m happy he is in a position to graduate in May, he’s something like 9, 12 credits away. If he chooses to go, I’m for him. If he stays, he’ll probably be our best recruit on the back end.’’
Parker said there are differences between King, the 2015 Thorpe Award winner, and Jackson, one of three finalists for the award presented annually to college football’s top defender.
“Desmond was a little different story,’’ Parker said.
He said the 6-foot-1 Jackson is likely a little more athletic than King, while the 5-10 King may possess better natural instincts than Jackson at the same point in their careers.
King was at Kinnick Stadium the day Jackson picked off three passes against Ohio State and Parker said the former teammates talked a bit that day.
Parker said he has learned not to try to sway a decision one way or another, providing information and advice as requested.
“It’s definitely a decision he is going to have to make with his family,’’ he said.
Parker trusts Jackson to weigh things out before reaching a decision after the Hawkeye seasons ends.
“One thing about college football, it’s more family like,’’ he said. “When you starting going to the NFL, it’s all about a business. So, he does have to look at that. This, it’s more of a family here. The NFL, it’s a job.’’