The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa football’s Cooper DeJean suffers lower leg injury, will miss remainder of season

Head coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed the news on Wednesday night.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean returns the ball during the 2023 Wildcats Classic, a football game between Iowa and Northwestern at Wrigley Field in Chicago, on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 10-7.

The Iowa football team continues to be bitten by the injury bug.

One of the biggest playmakers for the Hawkeyes, cornerback and punt returner Cooper DeJean, suffered a lower leg injury in practice and will miss the remainder of the season, head coach Kirk Ferentz announced Wednesday evening in a release.

“This is truly heartbreaking for Cooper,” Ferentz said. “He has played extremely well and is a real playmaker on our team. We will all support Cooper during his recovery, which will continue into the new year.

“This has been a season filled with challenges for our team. I am proud of how our players have responded with tremendous grit and determination. We are focused on Saturday,” added Ferentz.

With a victory over Illinois on Saturday, Iowa will clinch the Big Ten West and head to the conference championship in Indianapolis for the first time since 2021.

Ferentz expanded on DeJean’s injury on the “Hawk Talk” radio show with play-by-play announcer Gary Dolphin.

The head coach said Deshaun Lee will replace DeJean at cornerback. Lee started the first two games of the season filling in for Jermari Harris, who was involved in the gambling investigation and is now the other starting cornerback.

Ferentz said Kaden Wetjen will take over on punt returns.

“This was a deal where his foot was planted, and he twisted it in a way that something had to give. So it’s just unfortunate,” Ferentz said on the radio. “The good news, if there is good news, hate to use the word routine, but it should be a very predictable path back for him. It’s gonna take some time, take more than six to eight weeks. But the good news is, you know, in that time period, he should be more than 100 percent again and good to go.”

Last year, Iowa headed into its regular-season finale against Nebraska a win away from clinching the Big Ten West. DeJean was injured early in the game against the Huskers, and the Hawkeyes lost, 24-17.

DeJean has played nearly 400 snaps in coverage this season without giving up a touchdown. He leads the Hawkeyes with five pass break-ups and ranks second on the team with two interceptions.

Hailing from Odebolt, Iowa, DeJean leads the Big Ten and ranks 13th nationally with an 11.5 punt return average. He returned a punt 70 yards late in the fourth quarter against Michigan State to seal a 26-16 Hawkeye victory.

DeJean is projected to go 17th overall to the Buffalo Bills in NBC Sports’ latest 2024 NFL Mock Draft.

“He doesn’t really draw a lot of attention to himself as an individual, except with his play, which is just stellar. Sometimes you catch yourself saying, ‘Did he just do that?’ … One of the better players I’ve ever been around. And he does it in a quiet, graceful way,” Ferentz said of DeJean.

Rumors started swirling around DeJean’s injury Wednesday afternoon. Scott Dochterman of The Athletic and 247Sport’s David Eickholt announced DeJean had suffered a lower leg injury, but his recovery timeline was still unknown.

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About the Contributors
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.