DeJean, Taylor Finalists For National Awards

Iowa City –Two University of Iowa football All-America candidates have been named finalists for national awards Tuesday.

Defensive back Cooper DeJean was named a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, while punter Tory Taylor is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. The Jim Thorpe Award is given to the nation’s top defensive back, while the Ray Guy Award is given to the best collegiate punter. 

 Joining DeJean as Jim Thorpe finalists are senior safety Trey Taylor (Air Force) and sophomore safety Malaki Starks (Georgia). 

 Joining Taylor as Ray Guy finalists are senior Matt Haybell (Vanderbilt) and redshirt junior Alex Mastromanno (Florida State). 

 Winners of both awards will be announced on Dec. 8, during the College Football Awards Show televised live on ESPN. 

DeJean, a dynamic threat on defense and special teams, played 388 snaps in coverage this season without giving up a touchdown prior to suffering a season-ending injury on Nov. 15. He allowed only 22 completions for 209 yards, including just one completion greater than 15 yards all season. DeJean had a 70-yard game-deciding touchdown late in the fourth quarter versus Michigan State. 

The Odebolt, Iowa, native ranks second on the Hawkeyes in interceptions (2), is third in pass break-ups (5) and 10th in tackles (41) this season. One of his two interceptions thwarted a scoring threat in the end zone against the Spartans. DeJean (6-foot-1, 209 pounds) and the Hawkeyes rank fourth in the country in scoring defense (12.2) and red zone defense (0.708), fourth in passing efficiency defense (99.46) and seventh in total defense (279.9). Iowa is the only team to allow two rushing touchdowns in the 2023 regular season. 

DeJean, who is also a Bronko Nagurski finalist, is second in the Big Ten and ranks 14th nationally with an 11.5 punt return average and he is second nationally in punt return touchdowns. 

He was a midseason first-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, The Athletic, ESPN and FOX. 

Iowa’s Desmond King won the Thorpe Award in 2015 and was a semifinalist the following season. Josh Jackson was a finalist for the award in 2017, while Riley Moss was a semifinalist in 2021. 

Taylor becomes the first Hawkeye to be voted a Ray Guy Award finalist. He broke Iowa’s single season punting yardage record for a third consecutive season in 2023 and has punted more times than any other Hawkeye (281). Taylor has an NCAA-best 79 punts for 3,766 yards in 2023. He leads the Big Ten and ranks third nationally with a 47.7-yard punting average as a senior. 

Thirty-one of his punts have traveled 50+ yards (five punts of 60+), 26 have been fair caught and 29 downed inside the 20, 11 inside the 10 and six inside the 5. The native of Melbourne, Australia, only has five touchbacks and opponents average just 5.7 yards per return. 

Taylor (6-foot-4, 232 pounds) was recognized as the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week three times this year (Oct. 9; Oct. 16; Nov. 20) and the Ray Guy National Punter of the Week on Oct. 24. 

Taylor, who was also a Ray Guy Award semifinalist in 2020 and 2021, was a first-team All-America honoree by six publications (Associated Press, ESPN, FOX, The Athletic, Sporting News, CBS). 

The Hawkeyes return to action on Saturday, traveling to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game. Iowa will face No. 2 Michigan at 7:17 p.m. (CT) at Lucas Oil Stadium. The game will be broadcast on FOX and broadcast on the Hawkeye Radio Network. 



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