The Iowa football team faces another setback as one of its key players, cornerback and punt returner Cooper DeJean, is ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz conveyed the unfortunate news, emphasizing the impact of DeJean’s absence on the team. Let’s find out what happened to Cooper DeJean.
Challenges Amidst Grit and Determination
Ferentz reflected on the season, acknowledging the numerous challenges the team has faced. Despite the adversity, he commended the players for their resilience, grit, and determination.
With the focus shifting to the upcoming game against Illinois, Ferentz underscored the team’s determination to clinch the Big Ten West and secure a spot in the conference championship.
Expressing his disappointment, Coach Ferentz described DeJean’s injury as “truly heartbreaking.” The cornerback has been a standout performer for the Hawkeyes, showcasing his skills both defensively and on special teams.
Ferentz acknowledged DeJean’s significant contributions and expressed the team’s commitment to supporting him through the recovery process.
What happened to Cooper DeJean?
Cooper DeJean suffered a lower leg injury during practice, as announced by head coach Kirk Ferentz. Unfortunately, the injury is severe enough to rule DeJean out for the remainder of the season.
The head coach expressed his disappointment, describing it as “truly heartbreaking” for DeJean, who has been a standout cornerback and punt returner for the Hawkeyes. The injury occurred during a practice play where DeJean’s foot was planted, leading to a twist that necessitated his absence for an extended period.
Coach Ferentz shared that the recovery timeline would take more than the typical six to eight weeks but expressed optimism that DeJean should be more than 100 percent again after the recovery period.
Deshaun Lee is set to replace DeJean at cornerback, and Kaden Wetjen will take over punt return duties in his absence.
Deshaun Lee and Kaden Wetjen Step In
In addressing the void left by DeJean’s absence, Ferentz revealed that Deshaun Lee would step into the cornerback position, replacing the injured playmaker.
Lee, who previously started the first two games of the season, brings experience to the role. Additionally, Kaden Wetjen is set to take over punt return duties in DeJean’s stead.
Coach Ferentz Details the Injury
Speaking on the “Hawk Talk” radio show, Coach Ferentz provided more insight into DeJean’s injury. He explained that it occurred during a practice play where DeJean’s foot was planted, leading to an unfortunate twist.
Despite the setback, Ferentz shared some optimistic notes about the recovery process, describing it as a “predictable path back.” However, he noted that the timeline for recovery would extend beyond the typical six to eight weeks.
DeJean’s Impact and Achievements
Ferentz highlighted DeJean’s exceptional performance throughout the season, noting that he had played nearly 400 snaps in coverage without allowing a touchdown.
DeJean leads the team with five pass break-ups and ranks second with two interceptions. His punt return average of 11.5 yards has positioned him as a standout in the Big Ten and nationally.
The coach commended DeJean’s ability to make significant plays, including a crucial 70-yard punt return against Michigan State.
Future Prospects and NFL Projection
Despite the setback, DeJean remains a highly regarded prospect, projected to go 17th overall to the Buffalo Bills in NBC Sports’ 2024 NFL Mock Draft.
Coach Ferentz praised DeJean not only for his on-field prowess but also for his humble demeanor, describing him as one of the best players he has ever been around.
Echoes of Past Disappointment
This injury carries echoes of the previous season, when Iowa aimed to clinch the Big Ten West in its regular-season finale against Nebraska.
Unfortunately, DeJean suffered an injury early in the game, and the Hawkeyes fell short, losing 24-17. The memory of that disappointment lingers as the team faces a similar situation this year.
Uncertainty Surrounding Recovery
Rumors about DeJean’s injury began circulating earlier in the day, with uncertainty surrounding the recovery timeline.
Journalists Scott Dochterman and David Eickholt reported the lower leg injury but noted that specific details about the recovery duration were still unknown.
Looking Ahead with Determination
As Iowa navigates the challenges posed by DeJean’s absence, the team remains focused on its goals. The upcoming game against Illinois holds significant implications for the Hawkeyes, as a victory would secure the Big Ten West and a chance to compete in the conference championship.
Despite the setback, Coach Ferentz and the Hawkeyes are determined to press forward, demonstrating the resilience that has defined their season.
Cooper DeJean’s injury adds a layer of adversity to Iowa’s football journey, but the team remains resolute in its pursuit of success on the field.
The next chapter awaits, with Deshaun Lee and Kaden Wetjen stepping into pivotal roles as the Hawkeyes strive to overcome challenges and secure a spot in the championship race.