By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The next time Chauncey Golston makes a big play on defense for the Iowa football team, Hawkeye fans should thank his fellow Detroit native Desmond King.
The same when Cedrick Lattimore makes a big play on defense or when Alaric Jackson makes a key block on offense for the Hawkeyes.
Because without King’s rise to stardom as an Iowa defensive back, there is a good chance that all three of the Detroit-area natives would have played elsewhere in college.
Golston said as much to the media recently.
“Without Desmond I don’t know if I would been looking at Iowa because I really wouldn’t have had too much of a reason to look at Iowa because it’s so far away,” Golston said. “But Desmond really did that.”
King blazed his own trail as an Iowa football player, and in doing so, he helped to clear a path for others from his hometown of Detroit.
Golston and Lattimore both paid close attention to King’s career at Iowa because all three of them attended East English Village High School in Detroit and are friends.
Golston and Lattimore were high school seniors in 2015 when King won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top collegiate defensive back as a junior at Iowa.
King showed that the Iowa coaches could be trusted, and that they had a knack for finding and developing unheralded recruits.
Iowa was the only team from a power conference to offer King a scholarship, and that was also the case with Golston.
“It was the way that the program is,” Golston said of why he picked Iowa. “They build people from the ground up. They don’t get all the flashy recruits. So you know they’re going to care for you and they’re going to nurture you and they’re going to get to where you need to be.”
King has since moved on the NFL where he is an All-Pro defensive back for the Los Angeles Chargers.
But he still serves an inspiration for his fellow Detroit natives on the Iowa football team.
Iowa’s spring depth chart has five players from the Detroit area who are listed as starters.
Golston and Lattimore are listed as starters at defensive end and defensive tackle, respectively, while Jackson is the starter at offensive left tackle for a third consecutive season.
Senior Michael Ojemudia is listed as the starter at right cornerback and sophomore Kaevon Merriweather is the starter at strong safety.
Iowa’s 2019 recruiting class also includes two players from the Detroit area in defensive lineman Jalen Hunt, who is from Detroit, and defensive back Daraun McKinney, who is from the Detroit suburb of River Rouge, Mich.
“There are some pretty nice guys coming out of Detroit,” Golston said. “Especially with the division that we played at.”
Golston, Lattimore and Jackson were all part of Iowa’s 2016 recruiting class.
Lattimore saw action in six games as a true freshman, while Golston and Jackson both were redshirted as true freshmen in 2016.
Golston feels connected to all of his teammates, but his bond with Lattimore is extra special because of their similar backgrounds.
They weren’t necessarily a package deal as recruits, but it certainly helped Iowa’s cause to have wanted both of them.
“That’s my brother,” Golston said of Lattimore. “All of these guys are my brothers. But it’s different with him. We’ve been together for so long. It’s a little different.”
College can be a strange and lonely place at times, so it helps to have a close friend on the same journey.
It helps having somebody who you trust, and have known for years, at your side in college because it provides a level of comfort and familiarity.
And now with Golston and Lattimore both starting, it feels even better.
“That’s my brother,” Lattimore said. “We’ve been to high school together. We know how each other plays. We know how each other thinks.
“So starting with him this year is going to be fun.”
Lattimore also credits King’s success at Iowa for making the Hawkeyes an attractive option for recruits from Detroit
“We came out here and visited Iowa when we were juniors and we saw Desmond and we liked how this program worked,” Lattimore said. “We came in here as freshmen together, so I just love the dude.”
Lattimore and Golston both committed to Iowa on May 19, 2015 near the end of their junior year of high school.
Their allegiance to Iowa brought them closer together in high school.
“He’s from the east side of Detroit; I’m from the west side of Detroit,” Lattimore said. “But I went to school on the east side. But it’s just different.
“I’m real cool with his family now and it has just brought us closer family-wise because we were like brothers in high school. But once we started visiting colleges and stuff, we started being more close and got to meet each other’s family more. And we became a family as a whole.”
Lattimore enters his senior season as a three-year letterman. He was one of 10 true freshmen to play for Iowa in 2016 and he started six games as a sophomore in 2017.
Golston was redshirted in 2016, so he is one year behind Lattimore in terms of eligibility.
Golston didn’t start any games last season, but he played a significant role while seeing action about defensive tackle and defensive end.
“As the season progressed I got more comfortable with my eyes and I was more sure of myself,” said Golston, who finished with nine sacks last season. “So with that, it was just easier to play.”
Golston was recruited to play defensive end, but he moved inside last season to provide more depth at tackle.
“I was just trying to get on the field,” Golston said. “I don’t care where I play, as long as I’m on the field.”
Golston often goes head-to-head against Alaric Jackson in practice, and that’s no easy task, considering that Jackson made second-team All-Big Ten last season.
Fellow offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs also provides a huge challenge in practice, figuratively and literally.
“It’s really challenging,” Golston said. “They’re both good, fast, athletic guys. So it’s great being able to practice against guys of that caliber.”
Golston weighed 224 pounds when he arrived at Iowa, but now carries nearly 270 pounds on a 6-foot-5 frame after having trained under Chris Doyle for the past three years.
“I got bigger, stronger and faster,” Golston said. “But I knew that coming in. I would expect it.”
Golston also has benefitted from having strong leaders during his first three years in the program, most notably defensive end Parker Hesse, who was senior last season.
Hesse was widely admired and respected by his teammates, so it’ll take some getting used to not having him around anymore.
“We always had Parker around to tell us what to do,” Golston said