CBS Sports ranks Iowa Hawkeyes as nation's No. 2 secondary – Hawkeyes Wire

Iowa should boast one of the Big Ten’s and the country’s best defenses once again. That just feels like a safe bet for the Hawkeyes under Phil Parker’s leadership.
Buoyed by the decisions of Noah Shannon and Logan Lee to return, Iowa should have one of the stronger defensive lines in the conference. That duo is joined by names such as Deontae Craig, Aaron Graves, Yahya Black, Joe Evans and Ethan Hurkett.
Alongside projected starting linebackers Jay Higgins and Nick Jackson, that defensive line group recently caught CBS Sports’ attention as one of college football’s top front seven groups.
Now, CBS Sports is showing love to the Hawkeyes’ defensive backfield. CBS Sports’ David Cobb ranked Iowa as the nation’s No. 2 secondary, trailing only Penn State up top.
Star cornerback Riley Moss is off to the NFL, but the Hawkeyes are going to be stingy again, per usual. Cooper DeJean is back at corner after enjoying a breakout season with five interceptions — including three returned for touchdowns — last year. Fellow corner Jermari Harris missed last season due to injury, but if he can regain the form he enjoyed in 2021 when he picked off four passes, the Hawkeyes will be nasty at the position. Former five-star safety prospect Xavier Nwankpa could also be in line for a breakout sophomore season anchoring Iowa’s back end. – Cobb, CBS Sports.
Even after the departures of cornerback Riley Moss to the Denver Broncos and Kaevon Merriweather to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Iowa should remain very, very good in the secondary.
Cooper DeJean is already a superstar and one of the Big Ten’s and nation’s best corners. It’s why he was included among 247Sports’ likely Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year candidates. It’s also why DeJean is being mocked in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft by both Touchdown Wire and Athlon Sports.
DeJean finished the 2022 season with 75 tackles, 13 passes defensed and five interceptions, three of which he took back for touchdowns. He was also sensational on special teams, returning 10 punts for 165 yards and working as a gunner as well.
As noted by Cobb, Iowa will pair DeJean with talented corner Jermari Harris. The 6-foot-1, 190 pound defensive back played in 13 games in 2022 and started six, but he missed last season due to injury. Now, he’s back and he brings with him the 34 tackles and four interceptions from that 2022 season.
At safety, Iowa has another electric player in Xavier Nwankpa. A five-star signee, Nwankpa made his first career start in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl against Kentucky and came away with a pick-six, two passes defensed and eight tackles.
Nwankpa will be joined by Quinn Schulte at safety. Schulte started all 13 games last season, registering 71 tackles, seven pass breakups and one interception. Iowa also has Sebastian Castro listed as its starter at CASH, and he will factor into the Hawkeyes’ secondary situation.
After Penn State at No. 1 and Iowa at No. 2, Cobb ranked the nation’s top-five secondaries like this: No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Alabama.

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