Iowa Star Cornerback Cooper DeJean Out for the Rest of the 2023 Season
Iowa’s football program was hit with devastating news on Wednesday night as star cornerback and kick returner Cooper DeJean was ruled out for the remainder of the 2023 season. The announcement came from the school, which stated that DeJean had suffered a lower leg injury, although the specific leg was not disclosed. Unfortunately, this injury will also prevent DeJean from participating in any potential bowl games.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz expressed his disappointment in a statement, saying, “This is truly heartbreaking for Cooper. He has been an exceptional player and a real playmaker for our team. We will provide him with all the support he needs during his recovery, which will extend into the new year.”
Latest Blow to the Hawkeyes
DeJean’s injury adds to the growing list of significant setbacks for the Hawkeyes in the 2023 season. The team has already lost quarterback Cade McNamara, tight end Luke Lachey, and tight end Erick All to season-ending injuries.
Despite these challenges, Iowa managed to climb to No. 16 in the College Football Playoff rankings after a dominant 22-0 victory over Rutgers on Tuesday night. DeJean has been a standout performer for the team, accumulating 41 tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions in the first 10 games of the season. The school also highlighted that DeJean has played over 400 snaps in pass coverage without allowing a single touchdown.
A Versatile Playmaker
DeJean’s impact extends beyond his defensive contributions. As a punt returner, he has showcased his skills with 21 returns for 241 yards and a touchdown. Notably, his touchdown return against Michigan State in September secured a crucial win for the Hawkeyes with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
However, DeJean’s punt return touchdown against Minnesota in October was nullified due to an invalid fair catch signal. This ruling prevented him from advancing the ball, and Iowa ultimately suffered a narrow 12-10 defeat.
DeJean’s injury raises questions about his future, particularly regarding his potential participation in workouts for NFL teams if he decides to declare for the 2024 NFL Draft. Charles McDonald of Yahoo Sports projected DeJean as the 11th overall pick to the Arizona Cardinals in his November 1 mock draft. In his sophomore season in 2022, DeJean recorded 75 tackles and five interceptions, further solidifying his status as a top prospect.
Remaining Season Goals
Despite the setbacks, the Hawkeyes are on the verge of clinching the Big Ten West title. With upcoming games against Illinois and Nebraska, Iowa has a chance to finish the regular season with a 10-2 record. Despite averaging fewer than 19 points per game on offense, the team’s strong defense, led by DeJean, has allowed an impressive average of just 12.3 points per game.
As the Hawkeyes push forward without DeJean, they will rely on the depth of their roster and the resilience of their players to overcome this significant loss and continue their pursuit of success.