Cade McNamara received recognition for his potential to be the best player in college football. Now, teammate Cooper DeJean has been named to the 2023 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list, announced by the Football Writers Association of America on Tuesday. 

The Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the best defensive player in college football. Former Hawkeye linebackers Josey Jewell and Pat Angerer were finalists for the award. 

The 6-foot-1, 209-pound DeJean was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media and second team by the coaches in 2022 after finishing with 75 tackles, five interceptions and eight pass breakups. He set Iowa’s single season record with three pick 6’s in 2022. He also averaged a team-best 16.5 yards on 10 punt returns a year ago. 

The Odebolt, Iowa, native was voted the 2022 Music City Bowl Most Valuable Player after notching seven tackles (six solo), including one for loss, and notching a 14-yard pick-6 against Kentucky. DeJean was named the Rose Bowl Defensive Player of the Week versus Wisconsin after totaling 10 tackles (seven solo), including one for loss, and returning an interception 32 yards for a score. He was the recipient of Iowa’s Reggie Roby Special Teams Award (overall) and Team Hustle Award (defense) last season. 

The award is named after Bronislau “Bronko” Nagurski and his legendary talents. He was a consensus All-American defensive tackle in 1929, and also an All-American fullback in 1929, becoming the only player ever picked at two positions in the same season.
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