IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa junior defensive back Cooper DeJean has been named a candidate for the 2023 Chuck Bednarik Award, which is presented to the most outstanding defensive player in college football by the Maxwell Football Club.
The Hawkeyes have had eight semifinalists for the award since 2005. They include Jack Campbell (2022), Daviyon Nixon (2020), Josh Jackson (2017), Josey Jewell (2017), Desmond King (2016), Adrian Clayborn (2010), Pat Angerer (2009), and Chad Greenway (2005).
DeJean (6-foot-1, 209 pounds) was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media and second team by the coaches in 2022 after finishing with 75 tackles, five interceptions and eight pass breakups. He set Iowa’s single season record with three pick 6’s in 2022. He also averaged a team-best 16.5 yards on 10 punt returns a year ago.
Earlier this month, DeJean was named to the 2023 Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player of the year), Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back), and Paul Hornung Award (versatility) watch lists. He is recognized on the Athlon Sports and Phil Steele 2023 preseason All-America second teams, as well as being voted to the Big Ten Conference Preseason Honors List and first-team All-Big Ten accolades by Phil Steele, Athlon Sports and Pro Football Focus.
The Odebolt, Iowa, native was voted the 2022 Music City Bowl Most Valuable Player after notching seven tackles (six solo), including one for loss, and notching a 14-yard pick-6 against Kentucky. DeJean was named the Rose Bowl Defensive Player of the Week versus Wisconsin (Nov. 12, 2022) after totaling 10 tackles (seven solo), including one for loss, and returning an interception 32 yards for a score. He was the recipient of Iowa’s Reggie Roby Special Teams Award (overall) and Team Hustle Award (defense) last season.
The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1994 and is named in honor of Chuck “Concrete Charlie” Bednarik who was an All-American player at the University of Pennsylvania and later a multiple year All-Pro linebacker and center for the Philadelphia Eagles. He is a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame and was the last NFL player to be a full-time player on both offense and defense.
Semifinalists for the Bednarik Award will be announced Nov. 13, while the three finalists will be unveiled Nov. 28. The winner of the 29th Bednarik Award will be announced as part of the ESPN’s College Football Awards Show on Dec. 7.
The Hawkeyes open their season on Sept. 2 against Utah State. The sold-out game is set for an 11 a.m. (CT) kickoff.
HAWKEYES ON 2023 WATCH LISTS
* Erick All – John Mackey Award (TE)
* Cooper DeJean – Bronko Nagurski Trophy (D-POY) // Chuck Bednarik Award (D-POY) // Jim Thorpe Award (DB) // Paul Hornung Award (versatility)
* Nick Jackson — Dick Butkus Award (LB)
* Kaleb Johnson – Doak Walker Award (RB)
* Logan Jones – Rimington Trophy (C)
* Luke Lachey – John Mackey Award (TE)
* Cade McNamara – Maxwell Award (POY)
* Drew Stevens – Lou Groza Award (PK)
* Tory Taylor – Ray Guy Award (P)