Friday, May 24, 2024

2024 NFL Draft: Top CB prospect Cooper DeJean says he can beat Caitlin Clark one-on-one in basketball

Caitlin Clark may be the greatest women’s basketball player of all time, but there’s another former Iowa athlete who thinks he can beat her in a game of one-on-one. 

Cooper DeJean, the former Iowa cornerback and one of the top-rated prospects in this year’s NFL Draft, said that he was asked by NFL teams on numerous occasions during the combine if he could beat Clark in a game of hoops. 

“I said that I think I could win,” DeJean said Tuesday in an interview with CBS Sports. 

DeJean’s answer caught me off guard, and he could tell. 

“You don’t think I can win?” he asked, which I responded by reminding him that Clark, the former Iowa Hawkeyes superstar and the Indiana Fever’s No. 1 overall draft pick, is widely considered to be the greatest women’s basketball player ever. In DeJean’s defense, he does have a hoops background. In high school, he was a three-time letter winner at point guard. 

“She’d definitely score on me, for sure, but I think I could pull it off,” said DeJean, who added that Clark’s shooting prowess would be his biggest challenge. “It would be close, though. … She can shoot from anywhere, I think.”

DeJean’s confidence against Clark is no knock against Clark, but more of an insight into DeJean’s confidence in his athletic ability. He was a highly successful multi-sport athlete in high school, winning state titles in track and in football. DeJean was a 1,000-yard receiver as a sophomore before leading his high school to back-to-back state titles as its starting quarterback. He scored 59 total touchdowns as a senior in addition to picking off three passes as a defensive back. 

DeJean went to Iowa to play safety, but moved to cornerback when injuries hit the Hawkeyes’ secondary during his freshman season. He went on to enjoy immense success at cornerback, picking off seven passes and returning two for scores. DeJean’s pick six against Kentucky in the 2022 Music City Bowl contributed to him winning the game’s MVP award. 

DeJean’s versatility, one of his strengths as a football player, has created some uncertainty regarding his draft stock. While no one is doubting his status as a first-round talent, there have been questions about whether or not he would be better off moving back to safety at the next level. 

Those questions don’t seem to be a concern for DeJean, who is looking to help his future team win in any way possible. 

“Really, wherever the team needs me, wherever they see me at, wherever they think I can impact the game the most,” said DeJean, who has teamed up with Head & Shoulders and their Make Every Wash Count campaign. “Whatever position that is, I’m willing to do that. Obviously, I played corner most of my college career, but I feel like there’s multiple positions in a defense that I can play. I just want to trust the coaches that have been doing it for a long time and try to make an impact wherever they put me.” 

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