IOWA CITY, Iowa — Four University of Iowa football student-athletes — junior Cooper DeJean, and seniors Sebastian Castro, Jay Higgins and Tory Taylor — have been voted All-America by the Associated Press (AP). The announcement was made on Monday by the AP.
DeJean and Taylor are first team honorees by the AP, Higgins is recognized on the second team, while Castro is a third team selection. Iowa has had at least one AP first or second team All-American 10 straight seasons (2014-2023). The AP has been one of five outlets recognized by the NCAA to determine consensus All-Americans (Walter Camp, Associated Press, Sporting News, Football Writers Association of America).
DeJean was one of top defensive players in the nation before going down with a season-ending injury on Nov. 15. The Odebolt, Iowa, native finished the season with 41 tackles, two TFL, two interceptions and five pass break-ups in 10 games. DeJean did not allow a touchdown pass in 388 snaps in coverage in 2023. As a punt returner, DeJean was one of the nation’s best. He had a 70-yard punt return for a game-winning score against Michigan State and he had a second touchdown return for the game-winning score negated because of an “invalid fair catch signal” against Minnesota. DeJean is second in the Big Ten and ranks 14th nationally, averaging 11.5 yards per return.
DeJean is also a first-team All-America honoree by Walter Camp, FWAA, CBS, Sports Illustrated and The Athletic. He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski awards and a semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. He was previously named the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and the Rodgers-Dwight Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year last month. DeJean was also a first-team all-conference honoree by the Associated Press and league coaches and media.
Taylor, the 2023 Ray Guy Punter of the Year, broke Iowa’s single season punting yardage record for a third consecutive season. He has an NCAA-best 86 punts for 4,119 yards with his 47.9 average leading the Big Ten and ranking third nationally. Thirty-six of his punts have traveled 50+ yards (six punts of 60+), 27 have been fair caught, 30 have been downed inside the 20, 11 inside the 10 and six inside the 5. The Australia native only has six touchbacks and opponents average just 8.8 yards per return. He has 288 punts for 13,297 yards — both school records — and his 46.2 career average will break Jason Baker’s mark come season’s end.
Taylor is also a first-team All-American by Walter Camp, FWAA, CBS (unanimous), The Athletic and Sports Illustrated. Taylor (46.2) will finish his collegiate career breaking the NCAA’s career punting average record; currently held by Baylor’s Daniel Sepulveda (42.5). Taylor, who is a two-time FWAA first-team All-America, has averaged 40 or more yards (min. four punts) in an NCAA-best 42 career games. He was named the Eddleman-Fields Big Ten Punter of the Year and first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media last month.
Higgins has been a tackling machine for Iowa’s defense, racking up 155 tackles — the most in the Big Ten, the third-most nationally (most by a Power 5 player) and the fourth-most in a single season in school history. The Indianapolis native has led the team in tackles in 11 of 13 games with two 15+ tackle games and nine games with 10 or more stops. He has been a leader on an Iowa defense that is fourth nationally, allowing 13.2 points per game.
Higgins was previously recognized as first-team All-America by FWAA and Sports Illustrated, and a second team honoree by CBS. He is also a first-team All-Big Ten honoree by the Associated Press and league coaches and media.
Castro has been a menace in the CASH position, amassing 61 tackles, nine tackles for loss, one sack and a team-best three interceptions. The Illinois native had a 30-yard pick six in Iowa’s road win at Iowa State and he had the game-sealing interception in the road win at Wisconsin. Castro was previously honored as a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus.
The No. 17 Hawkeyes will play No. 21 Tennessee on Jan. 1, 2024, in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. The game will start at noon (CT) and will be televised on ABC.
2023 IOWA POSTSEASON NATIONAL HONORS
SEBASTIAN CASTRO: Pro Football Focus (first-team All-America); Associated Press (third-team All-America)
COOPER DEJEAN: Walter Camp, FWAA, Assciated Press, The Athletic, Sports Illustrated, CBS (first-team All-America)
JAY HIGGINS: FWAA, Sports Illustrated (first-team All-America); Associated Press, CBS (second-team All-America)
PHIL PARKER: Broyles Award
TORY TAYLOR: Walter Camp, FWAA, Associated Press, The Athletic, CBS, Pro Football Focus, Sports Illustrated (first-team All-America); Ray Guy Punter of the Year Award