Higgins Named Phil Steele DPOY; 12 Hawkeyes Earn Preseason Honors

IOWA CITY, Iowa – University of Iowa fifth-year linebacker Jay Higgins has been named Phil Steele’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, it was announced Tuesday by the college football publication. The Hawkeyes had three players garner preseason All-America honors and 12 earn preseason All-Big Ten laurels.

Higgins was also tabbed as a preseason first-team All-American, senior center Logan Jones was named to the third team, and graduate linebacker Nick Jackson was a fourth-team All-American. Each of the three players were also named preseason first-team All-Big Ten.

Iowa also had two preseason second-team All-Big Ten honorees in senior offensive tackle Mason Richman and graduate safety Sebastian Castro.

Four players – graduate Nick DeJong (guard), senior Yahya Black (defensive tackle), senior Deontae Craig (defensive end) and junior Drew Stevens (placekicker) – were named preseason third-team All-Big Ten, while senior Luke Lachey (tight end), senior Connor Colby (guard) and senior Luke Elkin (long snapper) were named to the fourth team.

Higgins earned the top defensive honor after having a breakout senior season. He finished the year with 171 tackles, tying the Iowa record, while leading the Big Ten and ranking third nationally. The Indianapolis native was a first-team All-American by FWAA, Phil Steele and Sports Illustrated and second-team accolades by AFCA, CBS, Walter Camp, Associated Press and Sporting News.

Jones started 13 games at center for the 2023 Hawkeyes and he earned third-team All-Big Ten honors by the league coaches and Phil Steele. He was one of six juniors named to the Iowa Player Council.

Jackson finished second on the team with 110 tackles, a mark that ranked fourth in the Big Ten. The Atlanta native earned third-team All-Big Ten honors by the league media and honorable mention by the league coaches. Jackson enters his final collegiate season with 464 tackles – the most among active players nationally.

Richman garnered honorable mention All-Big Ten honors by the coaches and media in 2023 after starting all 14 games for a 10-win team. Castro earned Pro Football Focus first-team All-America and Associated Press third-team honors after finishing with 67 tackles, three interceptions and eight pass breakups.

DeJong was a third-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches after being a super utility on Iowa’s offensive line in 2023. He played in 11 games, starting games at three different positions. Black started 14 games in his first season as a starter, accumulating 51 tackles and five tackles for loss, while Craig was honorable mention All-Big Ten after making 54 tackles, including five tackles for loss, three sacks and seven quarterback hurries. Stevens earned third-team All-Big Ten honors and was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist after making 18 field goals and leading the team with 73 points.

Lachey missed all but three games in 2023 because of injury. He finished with 10 receptions for 131 yards before sustaining a season-ending injury in Week 3. Colby started all 13 games at right guard a season ago en route to third-team All-Big Ten recognition, while Elkin was the long snapper for the Hawkeye special teams – one of the top units in the nation.

The Hawkeyes open the 2024 season Aug. 31, hosting Illinois State at 11 a.m. (CT) inside Kinnick Stadium.

Phil Steele Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Jay Higgins

Phil Steele Preseason All-America Teams
Jay Higgins, first team
Logan Jones, third team
Nick Jackson, fourth team

Phil Steele Preseason All-Big Ten Teams
First Team: Logan Jones (center), Jay Higgins (LB), Nick Jackson (LB)
Second Team: Mason Richman (OT), Sebastian Castro (S),
Third Team: Nick DeJong (OG), Yahya Black (DT), Deontae Craig (DE), Drew Stevens (PK)
Fourth Team: Luke Lachey (TE), Connor Colby (OG), Luke Elkin (LS)