It's been a good season for Iowa football and Player of the Week honors. (That's a nice side effect of going 12-0, I guess!) Marshall Koehn won the Special Teams Player of the Week award after booting Iowa to a win over Pittsburgh. Desmond King earned Defensive Player of the Week honors after grabbing two interceptions in Iowa's 10-6 slugfest over Wisconsin. Jordan Canzeri was named Offensive Player of the Week after his historic outing against Illinois. And a week later, Akrum Wadley also earned Offensive Player of the Week honors after coming in to replace Canzeri and busting off 200+ yards and 4 TDs to guide Iowa to a blowout road win over Northwestern. (C.J. Beathard also earned Player of the Week honors after leading Iowa to a come-from-behind win against Iowa State.) The Player of the Week train slowed down after Wadley was honored, but now Iowa's hopping back on the train.
The #B1GFootball Freshman of the Week is @HawkeyeFootball DE Parker Hesse, w/ an INT return for a TD pic.twitter.com/MMC8qowAEP— Big Ten Football (@B1Gfootball) November 30, 2015
Hesse becomes the first Iowa player to win Freshman of the Week honors since Akrum Wadley was named Freshman of the Week in 2014 after running for 100+ yards against Northwestern. Hesse's win also means that Iowa completes the set of Player of the Week honors for the 2015 season.
Parker Hesse entered 2015 as a redshirt freshman and reserve defensive end, expected to see spot duty when Iowa rotated Drew Ott or Nate Meier. That plan went out the window when Ott sustained a serious elbow injury and then a serious knee injury. Hesse has been a full-time starter ever since Ott's knee injury. He's racked up 38 tackles, including 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 QB hurry, 2 passes defended, and 1 pass break-up. Oh, right, and one interception:
Hesse's big play against Nebraska gave Iowa a lead it would never relinquish and provided a spark for the entire Iowa defense. The Hawkeyes did a lot of bending on Friday -- see: those gaudy yardage totals for Tommy Armstrong and the rest of the Nebraska offense -- but they didn't do a whole lot of breaking. Plays like the one Hesse made were a big reason why.
Hesse's play this year hasn't made anyone forget about Drew Ott, but the odds were always against a lightly-recruited redshirt freshman out-performing a multi-year senior starter. Hesse's been a capable stand-in for most of the year and he was even more than that on Friday (he had a career-high six tackles to go with his marvelous pick-six) and he is just a freshman -- things should only be getting better and better for Mr. Hesse from here on out. But for now, congratulations on being named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for a job very well done on Friday against Nebraska