The 2022 season ended quite abruptly and with loads of disappointment for the Iowa Hawkeyes. After fighting back from a 3-4 start to control their own destiny, the Hawkeyes crumbled on senior day to finish the regular season at 7-5. It was a crushing blow for the players, coaches and fans.
Despite the disappointment and the incredibly down year across the board in the Big Ten West, you don’t put yourself in a position for a second straight trip to Indianapolis without some quality athletes on the roster. So it should come as no surprise that the Iowa Hawkeyes had several players recognized when the Big Ten announced their all-conference selections this week.
Things opened with on the defensive side of the ball, as they should for Hawkeye football, when the conference announced their honorees on defense and special teams on Tuesday. Iowa had nine players in total earn all-conference honors, including a pair of first team selections.
Jack Campbell was the only Hawkeye to earn 1st team honors by both the coaches and the media. Riley Moss joined him on the 1st team according to the coaches while the media voted Cooper DeJean to the 1st team. DeJean was voted to the 2nd team by the coaches while Moss flipped with him per the media.
Beyond DeJean, the coaches also voted Lukas Van Ness and Seth Benson to the 2nd team. The media agreed with those selections, but also had Joe Evans on the 2nd team. The coaches voted Evans honorable mention, along with Kaevon Merriweather, Logan Lee and Noah Shannon. The latter three also received honorable mention from the media.
While nine total Hawkeyes earned defensive honors, including six on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams (the most of any team in the conference), the real honors went to linebacker Jack Campbell. Iowa’s leader in the middle of the defense was named the conference’s top linebacker as well as the defensive player of the year.
Campbell, who led the team with 118 tackles in 2022, becomes the second Hawkeyes to be voted the Butkus-Fitzgerald Big Ten Linebacker of the Year following in the footsteps of The Outlaw Josey Jewell in 2017. He’s also the third Hawkeye under head coach Kirk Ferentz to be named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, joining defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon (2020) and linebacker Josey Jewell (2017).
Along with the defensive awards, the conference handed out All-Big Ten special teams honors on Tuesday. In a surprise to nobody, the Hawkeyes were well represented.
Punter Tory Taylor, who averaged 45.1 yards per punt on 74 punts this season, was named 1st Team All-Big Ten by the media. Shockingly, he was only voted 3rd Team All-Big Ten by the coaches while Michigan State’s Bryce Baringer (who led the conference in punt yardage at 49 yards per punt on only 50 total punts) took 1st Team honors and Adam Korsak of Rutgers (44 YPP on 75 punts) was named 2nd Team All-Big Ten.
Kicker Drew Stevens, who made 89% of his kicks this season, was named 2nd Team All-Big Ten by the media and 3rd Team by the coaches. Michigan's Jake Moody earned 1st Team honors by both groups after leading the conference with 26 FGs made (81%).
On the offensive side of the ball, there were obviously fewer honors to go around for the Hawkeyes. Such is life when you are last in the conference in total offense. But Iowa did have four players earn honors of some kind on Wednesday.
The headliner was tight end Sam LaPorta, who was Iowa’s only honoree on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd Teams, earned 1st Team All-Big Ten by both the media and coaches. He was joined in earning honors by fellow tight end Luke Lachey, as well as running back Kaleb Johnson and lineman Mason Richman, who were all named Honorable Mention. Johnson earned the honors from both the coaches and the media while Richman was tabbed by the coaches and Lachey by the media.
Johnson leads the team in rushing with 762 yards and six TDs on 142 carries this season. He topped 100 yards three times this year while setting the freshman rushing record at Iowa. He was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week following his performance in Iowa’s road win at Purdue where he rushed for 200 yards on 22 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown run.
Lachey finished the year third on the team in both receptions and yards while leading the team in receiving touchdowns after totaling 362 yards and three scores on 25 catches.
While earning 1st Team All-Big Ten honors, LaPorta was also named the conference’s Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year. LaPorta finished the regular season with 601 yards and one TD on 53 receptions. He was Iowa’s leader in both receptions and receiving yards in 2022.
Over the course of his career, LaPorta has amassed a staggering 1,730 career receiving yards on 148 total receptions. He finishes the regular season as Iowa’s all-time leader among tight ends in receptions and second in receiving yards to only Marv Cook. He is 15th all-time among all players in receiving yards.
Safety Kaevon Merriweather was also named Iowa’s Sportsmanship Award recipient. Merriweather finished the regular season second on the team in interceptions with three. He has 47 tackles and scored a defensive touchdown with a fumble return in Iowa’s win at Rutgers, earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.