Cooper DeJean

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Robert stole my pick for this one, so to a certain extent, I’ll be playing devil’s advocate here. However, we’re still choosing between dynamite athletes.

Xavier Nwankpa is a five-star recruit. He left Southeast Polk High School in Altoona a semester early to participate in Iowa football’s spring practices. He joined the program at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds. Nwankpa is now 211 pounds.

Because of his physical stature and seemingly accelerated growth, Nwankpa appears to be the favorite to play cash over the likes of 5-foot-11, 204-pound junior Sebastian Castro.

While Nwankpa is a great choice to play cash, I have my eye on sophomore Cooper DeJean.

Like Nwankpa, DeJean is a superb athlete, and he possesses the frame needed to play cash at 6-foot-1, 203 pounds.

Yes, he’s not quite as big as Nwankpa. But he has a lot more experience than “X.”

DeJean has been on the Hawkeyes’ roster since 2021, practicing and learning defensive coordinator Phil Parker’s scheme. During that time, DeJean has gotten a lot of reps in the defensive backfield. DeJean even started at strong safety in Iowa’s 28-21 win over Nebraska in Lincoln.

DeJean checks all three boxes Iowa has for its cash. He’s big enough to drop down and function as a pseudo-linebacker in run situations. He is quick enough to serve as a defensive back on pass plays. DeJean is also smart and experienced enough to know where he’s supposed to be on the field based on what opposing offenses are doing.

I hear the “X” crowd loud and clear. They’ve made points I can’t dispute.

Still, I think Hawkeye fans should watch for DeJean at cash this fall.

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