Cooper DeJean Named Bednarik Award Semifinalist

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa junior defensive back Cooper DeJean has been selected as a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, which is presented to the most outstanding defensive player in college football by the Maxwell Football Club. DeJean is a semifinalist for three national awards: Jim Thorpe Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy and Bednarik.

The Hawkeyes have now had nine semifinalists for the award since 2005. They include DeJean (2023), 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 has played more than 400 snaps in coverage this season without giving up a touchdown. He leads the Hawkeyes in pass break-ups (5), is second in interceptions (2) and seventh in tackles (41) this season. One of his two interceptions thwarted a scoring threat in the end zone against Michigan State.

DeJean and the Hawkeyes rank third in the country in scoring defense (12.3), fourth in passing efficiency defense (100.1), sixth in red zone defense (0.682) and eighth in total defense (281.5). Iowa is the only team to have allowed one rushing touchdown in 2023.

On special teams, DeJean had a 70-yard game-deciding touchdown late in the fourth quarter against Michigan State. He leads the Big Ten and ranks 13th nationally with an 11.5 punt return average and he is second nationally in punt return touchdowns.

The Odebolt, Iowa, native was a midseason first-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, The Athletic, ESPN and FOX.

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.

Three finalists for the Bednarik Award will be unveiled Nov. 28. The winner of the 2023 Bednarik Award will be announced as part of the ESPN’s College Football Awards Show on Dec. 8.

Iowa (8-2, 5-2) will host Illinois (5-5, 3-4) in its home finale Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CT) on Duke Slater Field at Kinnick Stadium. The game will be televised on FS1 and broadcast on the Hawkeye Radio Network.

Hawkeye Semifinalists
Cooper DeJean — Jim Thorpe Award // Lott IMPACT Trophy // Bednarik Award
Joe Evans — Burlsworth Trophy
Jay Higgins — Dick Butkus Award
Drew Stevens — Lou Groza Award
Tory Taylor — Ray Guy Award