DeJean, Taylor Unanimous Consensus All-America

IOWA CITY, Iowa – University of Iowa junior Cooper DeJean, and senior Tory Taylor are 2023 unanimous consensus All-Americans after being voted to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America First Team. The announcement was made on Thursday by the AFCA.

In addition, senior lineback Jay Higgins was recognized as a second-team All-America honoree by the AFCA. DeJean and Taylor are unanimous consensus All-Americans after each being recognized as first-team All-America by Walter Camp, FWAA, Associated Press, AFCA and Sporting News. Iowa now has 31 consensus All-Americans in program history, including 16 in the Kirk Ferentz era.

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 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 (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 selection by the AP, Walter Camp, Sporting News and CBS. He is also a first-team All-Big Ten honoree by the AP and league coaches and media.

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.

SEBASTIAN CASTRO: Pro Football Focus (first-team All-America); Associated Press (third-team All-America)
COOPER DEJEAN: Walter Camp, FWAA, Associated Press, Sporting News, The Athletic, Sports Illustrated, CBS (first-team All-America)
JAY HIGGINS: FWAA, Sports Illustrated (first-team All-America); Associated Press, Walter Camp, Sporting News, CBS (second-team All-America)
PHIL PARKER: Broyles Award
TORY TAYLOR: Walter Camp, FWAA, Associated Press, Sporting News, The Athletic, CBS, Pro Football Focus, Sports Illustrated (first-team All-America); Ray Guy Punter of the Year Award