IOWA CITY, Iowa – Four University of Iowa football student-athletes – junior Cooper DeJean, senior Jay Higgins, senior Tory Taylor and senior Sebastian Castro — have been named Associated Press All-Big Ten selections, it was announced on Wednesday. DeJean, Higgins and Taylor were first-team selections, while Castro was named to the second team.
DeJean was tabbed first-team All-Big Ten at both the defensive back and all-purpose positions. The Odebolt, Iowa, native was one of top defensive players in the nation before going down with a season-ending injury in Week 12. He finished the season with 41 tackles, two TFL, two interceptions and five pass breakups in 10 games. DeJean didn’t allow a touchdown pass in 388 snaps in coverage.
As a punt returner, DeJean was one of the nation’s best. He had a 70-yard punt return for a game-winning touchdown against Michigan State and he had a second touchdown return for the game-winning score negated because of an “invaild fair catch signal” against Minnesota. DeJean is second in the Big Ten and ranks 14th nationally, averaging 11.5 yards per return.
DeJean is a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. He also was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award and a semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. DeJean was named the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and the Rodgers-Dwight Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year.
Taylor was a unanimous first-team selection after leading the Big Ten and ranking fourth nationally with a 47.9 average. He had 86 punts — the most in FBS — in 2023, booming 36 punts 50 or more yards (six punts of 60+), 27 have been fair caught and 30 have been downed inside the 20, 12 inside the 10 and six inside the 5. The Australian, who set the Iowa single-season punt yardage mark for a third straight season and both the career punts and career yardage records, only has six touchbacks in 2023.
Taylor is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award and was named the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and the Eddleman-Fields Big Ten Punter of the Year.
Higgins has been a tackling machine for Iowa’s defense, racking up 155 tackles — the most in the Big Ten, the third-most nationally (most by a Power 5 player) and the fourth-most in a single season in school history. The Indianapolis native has led the team in tackles in 11 of 13 games with two 15+ tackle games and nine games with 10 or more stops. He has been a leader on an Iowa defense that is fourth nationally, allowing 13.2 points per game.
Castro has been a menace in the CASH position, amassing 61 tackles, nine tackles for loss, one sack and a team-best three interceptions. The Illinois native had a 30-yard pick six in Iowa’s road win at Iowa State and he had the game-sealing interception in the road win at Wisconsin.
The No. 17 Hawkeyes will play 21st-ranked Tennessee on Jan. 1, 2024, in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. The game will start at noon (CT) and will be televised on ABC.