IOWA CITY, Iowa — Two University of Iowa football student-athletes — junior defensive back Cooper DeJean and sixth-year defensive lineman Joe Evans — have been named to lists for various postseason awards. DeJean is a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, while Evans is a nominee for the Burlsworth Trophy, an award presented to the most outstanding former walk-on.
DeJean is one of 15 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award, which is awarded to the nation’s best defensive back. He is one of two players from the Big Ten Conference on the list along with Ohio State’s Denzel Burke.
The midseason first-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, The Athletic, ESPN and FOX is fourth on the team with 38 tackles, he has 1.5 tackles for loss, three pass break-ups and two interceptions, including one in the end zone in the win over Michigan State. DeJean has played more than 300 snaps in coverage this season without giving up a touchdown.
The Odebolt, Iowa, native is leading the Big Ten and ranks 14th nationally with a 12.3 punt return average this season and he is second nationally in punt return touchdowns. DeJean had a 70-yard game-deciding touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the Spartans.
Desmond King won the Thorpe Award in 2015 and was a semifinalist the following season. Josh Jackson was a finalist for the award in 2017, while Riley Moss was a semifinalist in 2021.
Evans is one of 73 players nominated across Division I for the 2023 Bulsworth Trophy. Each nominee must have begun his first season of participation with an FBS football program without financial aid of any kind from his university’s athletic department.
The Ames, Iowa, native joined the Hawkeyes as a walk-on in the fall of 2018 — two months later than the other players in his recruiting class. After changing positions from linebacker to defensive end, Evans played his way onto the field in 2019 as a pass rushing specialist. He finished the season with four sacks.
Evans saw action in all eight games in 2020 and all 14 contests in 2021, where he tied for the team lead with seven sacks. In 2022, he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors after finishing the season with 8.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.
This season, Evans has been voted a team captain by his teammates each week of the season and he has moved into the top 10 in program history in career sacks (22). Evans will end his Hawkeye career as a five-year letterwinner.
The Jim Thorpe Award Committee will reconvene on the Sunday following Thanksgiving to select three award finalists. The award finalists will be announced as part of a special presentation by ESPN on Nov. 28. The winner will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Award on Friday, Dec. 8.
The Burlsworth Trophy award ceremony to honor the three finalists and to announce the 2023 recipient will be on Dec. 4, in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Iowa (6-2, 3-2) will travel to Chicago on Saturday to face Northwestern in the Wildcats Classic at Wrigley Field. The game will begin at 2:30 p.m. (CT) and it will be streamed on Peacock (subscription required).