Iowa star cornerback and punt returner Cooper DeJean will miss the remainder of the season after suffering an unspecified injury in practice, the team announced Tuesday. DeJean, a junior, is a stalwart in the secondary for the No. 16 Hawkeyes and a key driving force behind the team’s No. 3 scoring defense.
“This is truly heartbreaking for Cooper,” Iowa coach Kirk 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.
DeJean, a CBS Sports/247Sports Preseason All-American, has two interceptions this season and seven over the past two seasons. The Odebolt, Iowa, native emerged on the scene as one of the nation’s top cornerbacks last season when he returned three interceptions for touchdowns, and he has only solidified that reputation this season during the Hawkeyes’ 8-2 start.
Iowa can clinch a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game with a win over Illinois this week.
Without DeJean, Deshaun Lee could be in line for a greater role. The redshirt freshman stepped into the lineup in the season’s first couple of games amid a suspension to starter Jermari Harris and held his own. Lee amassed 15 tackles and two pass deflections as Iowa started 2-0 with wins over Utah State and rival Iowa State.
Iowa will also miss DeJean on special teams, where he shined as a returner over the past two seasons. DeJean returned a punt for a touchdown against Michigan State on Sept. 30 and also had a punt return touchdown waved off in a 12-10 loss to Minnesota on Oct. 21 when the officiating crew determined he signaled for a fair catch.