Kirk Ferentz’s program has a unique talent when it comes to defensive back Cooper DeJean. During the 2022 season, DeJean finished with 5 interceptions with a remarkable trio of pick-6 plays.

DeJean had a somewhat slow start to the 2023 campaign, likely with teams unwilling to target the DB star. However, he registered his first interception of the year against Michigan State and added a dramatic punt return touchdown.

At his weekly press conference, Ferentz was asked about the potential to put DeJean on offense for a package of plays. He admitted it’s a thought the coaching staff has batted around but also noted the Hawkeyes have to be wary of a pitch count for DeJean.


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“That’s a discussion, a thought, and believe me, we’ve all had that discussion,” said Ferentz. “You also gotta — in baseball a couple of weeks ago, I think I mentioned a pitcher getting pulled after 7 innings throwing a no-hitter. If you did a pitch count on Cooper, Cooper’s getting a lot of snaps.

“I suppose you could do it, but you don’t want to compromise what we’ve got defensively, that’s a consideration. He’s been a pretty big factor on special teams. I mean yeah, I wish I had 5 of him. I wish he had 5 brothers if they were quintuplets or whatever they’re called.”

As for DeJean’s rare skill set, Ferentz believes he would be a unique player no matter what team he played for. There are also some natural abilities DeJean possesses that shine with the Hawkeyes.

“He in my opinion is rare in any state in the union. You put him on any team in the country he would be unique and rare, and he played that way last year,” Ferentz explained. “I mean he had a fantastic year. I think probably the most interesting part of the whole thing is I think he played 5 games 3 years ago as a true freshman, so you can say we were stupid for that…

“He just does things — I hate that word natural because there’s a connotation this guy just goes out and plays. A lot of the stuff he does is because he knows how to play. He’s smart, he studies, he’s in the right place, and then some of the stuff on the punt return (touchdown), I helped him out, gave him some tips on how to be a better return guy. In all seriousness, he just does a lot of things really well, really smoothly.”

While it would be cool to see DeJean line up with the offense, it looks like fans will have to be content with his game-changing ability on defense and special teams for the time being.