The Iowa Hawkeyes have been on a tear since the beginning of November. While their matchup with Michigan this week has been cancelled, Iowa won their final six games of the regular season. A big part of the recent success has been an offense that ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring.
But the consistent key for Iowa over not just this season but the last 22 years under Kirk Ferentz has been an excellent defense. This year, the Hawkeyes finished second in the Big Ten and top-10 nationally in scoring defense and 2nd in the Big Ten and 11th nationally in total defense.
That type of production comes with great coaching and incredible on-field performances across the board by the players. Today, a number of Iowa’s defenders were recognized for their stellar performances.
For those counting at home, defensive linemen Daviyon Nixon and Chauncey Golston were named to the first team by both the coaches and the media while D-II transfer defensive end Zach VanValkenburg was named to the second team by both groups. That leaves just grad transfer Jack Heflin as a starter along the defensive line to not be named to one of the first two teams.
In the secondary, safety Jack Koerner was named second team All-Big Ten by the media and third team by the coaches. He was joined by safety/cash Dane Belton and both corners Riley Moss and Matt Hankins as honorable mention All-Big Ten selections.
And in the middle, linebacker Nick Niemann was named third team All-Big Ten by the coaches while Seth Benson was honorable mention All-Big Ten.
The real headline, however, was Iowa’s superstar defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon. Not only was Nixon named to the first team by both the media and coaches, he was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Nixon finished the year with 45 total tackles, including 22 solos, to go with 5.5 sacks, a forced fumble and one of the most memorable interception returns for a touchdown you’ll ever see.
The big man from Wisconsin has had an incredible journey. Originally set to come to Iowa in the class of 2017, Nixon wasn’t cleared by the NCAA and was forced to enroll at Iowa Western in Council Bluffs. After he had already enrolled, Nixon won his appeal and was ruled eligible by the NCAA, but it was too late. His performance at IWCC caught the attention of Alabama and head coach Nick Saban, but Nixon held firm with Iowa.
After a redshirt year in 2018, Nixon saw limited actionin 2019 and entered the transfer portal following the season. He ultimately decided to stay in Iowa City and the rest, as they say, is history.
Nixon is the first Iowa player to win the Nagurski-Wooden Defensive Player of the Year award since Josey Jewell took home the honors in 2017. He’s a virtual lock to leave early for the NFL draft this season.
Congratulations to Daviyon Nixon and all the Hawkeyes honored by the Big Ten on Wednesday.