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Iowa Football: Cooper DeJean Voted Preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year

Is Phil Parker poised to land another Tatum-Woodson Award?

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Iowa’s leading TD receiver is poised for another standout season at defensive back.
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cooper DeJean is an absolute superstar. The defensive back who’s been forced to move from safety to corner finished the 2022 season with 8 passes broken up, 5 interceptions and 3 pick-sixes. Put another way, DeJean scored more receiving touchdowns last season than all Iowa wide receivers combined. It was a new single-season record for interceptions returned for a touchdown at Iowa, a school with a rich history of producing incredible defensive back talent, and tied the school’s career mark in the category.

Now the Odebolt, Iowa native looks to improve on his remarkable sophomore season as he enters 2023 as a preseason All-American according to both Athlon and Phil Steele. Both publications also list DeJean as a preseason All-Big Ten selection as well, of course.

On Tuesday, CJD added yet another preseason honor as he was named the Big Ten Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, as voted on by the league’s media members.

The vote was a tight one as DeJean barely edged out Illinois defensive lineman Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton, who joins CDJ as a preseason All-American according to Athlon and Phil Steele after earning those honors in 2022. DeJean took home the top spot by a single point, edging Newton 42-41 in total points.

While DeJean won the total points, Newton actually led in first place votes, notching seven to DeJean’s six. But CDJ earned nine second place votes to just four for Newton, giving him the edge in total points.

Things were close for third place as well as Ohio State linebacker Tommy Eichenberg edged out his teammate, defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau, by a single point as well. Interestingly, Eichenberg received six votes for first place, the same as DeJean. Tuimoloau received five. Penn State linebacker Abdul Carter also received five first-place votes while his teammate, defensive end Chop Robinson, notched three. Corner Kalen King made it three Nittany Lions earning first place votes, garnering one. For the Buckeyes, corner Denzel Burke and DT Mike Hall Jr. each earned a top vote to make it four for OSU as well. Michigan linebacker Junior Colson and cornerback Will Johnson each received one first place vote as well.

Here’s a look at the full results.

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year​

1. Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa (6 first place, 9 second place, 6 third place) 42 points

2. Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton, DT, Illinois (7/4/12) 41

3. Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State (6/4/3) 29

4. J.T. Tuimoloau, DE, Ohio State (5/4/5) 28

5. Kalen King, DB, Penn State (1/7/5) 22

6. Abdul Carter, LB, Penn State (5/2/1) 20

7. Chop Robinson, DE, Penn State (3/2/0) 13

8. Denzel Burke, CB, Ohio State (1/2/0) 7

9. (tie) Junior Colson, LB, Michigan (1/0/2) and Will Johnson, CB, Michigan (1/1/0) 5

11. Mike Hall, DT, Ohio State (1/0/0) 3

12. (tie) Cal Haladay, LB, Michigan State and Jack Sawyer, DE, Ohio State 2

14. (tie) Maema Njongmeta, LB, Wisconsin; Tyler Nubin, DB, Minnesota and Nick Scourton (formerly Caraway), LB, Purdue 1