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Iowa Football CB Cooper DeJean Talks Transfer to Philadelphia Eagles

Iowa Football CB Cooper DeJean Talks Transfer to Philadelphia Eagles

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IOWA CITY — Former Iowa football star Cooper DeJean was back in Iowa City this past weekend.

DeJean, a homegrown product of OABCIG High School, etched himself into Hawkeyes lore during his career with the Hawkeyes. He has now moved on to the next phase of his football career, joining the Philadelphia Eagles after three seasons with the Iowa program.

But DeJean was back on familiar ground this past weekend. On Saturday, he hosted an outing at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City that benefited the Iowa SWARM NIL collective and the University of Iowa Dance Marathon.

“I just wanted to give back to Iowa City, a place where I spent three years of my life and played in front of some of the best fans in the country,” DeJean told the Register at Saturday’s event.

On Sunday, DeJean also held a youth soccer camp at Kinnick Stadium.

A look back at DeJean’s last few months

After making the decision to turn pro, many expected DeJean to be a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. But that took a turn for the worse. Surprisingly, DeJean slipped out of the first round, meaning he had to wait until the second day of the draft before his name came off the board.

That made it quite a tiring period.

“Yeah, it was crazy,” DeJean told the Register. “Those two days were pretty stressful until I heard my name. We were hoping for the first night, of course, but that didn’t happen. I’m glad I got the opportunity to continue playing football in Philadelphia. I’m looking forward to it. We have a great group of guys, great veterans. I’m looking forward to learning from them.”

The Eagles got a lot of bang for their buck by taking a player of DeJean’s caliber with the 40th overall pick. And while DeJean wasn’t a first-round pick, it seemed like a good choice to land on a franchise that has had recent success.

It’s a big life change for DeJean, who is not only preparing to play football in the NFL, but also getting used to a new city. He’s been to multiple Phillies games and a 76ers playoff game.

“It’s just cool to see all the fans and appreciate the atmosphere at those games,” DeJean said. “It makes you even more excited for football games in the fall.”

While the passion for sports is somewhat comparable to that of Iowa, Philadelphia is certainly a change of pace from what DeJean is used to.

“It’s a lot different than Iowa, I can tell you that much,” DeJean said. “But it’s been good. I’m just getting used to the city and city life. I’ve never lived outside of Iowa, so it’s going to be a little different. But I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to setting myself in stone in Philly and playing some football.”

DeJean has not played since Iowa’s Nov. 11 win over Rutgers. A few days after that game, DeJean broke his fibula in practice, knocking him out of the final four games of the season and effectively ending his career at Iowa.

DeJean was cleared to participate in football activities during his preparation for the NFL Draft, meaning he could work out with the Eagles later in the offseason.

“It was good,” DeJean said. “Being able to go through mini-camps and OTAs (organized team activities) and get back on the field and play soccer again. It was awesome. When the game gets taken away from you because of an injury like that and you’re sitting out there watching, it sucks. You’re a lot more excited to get back out there and play. So it was good to be back out there and get back on the field.”

Saturday’s event included a question-and-answer portion of the program — posed by a moderator and attendees. DeJean was asked about his most hated NFL team, and he gave an appropriate response considering the organization he now finds himself a part of.

“The Cowboys,” DeJean said, drawing cheers and applause.

More: For Iowa football player Mason Woods, finding his own path led him to a familiar place

Looking back at Iowa

DeJean was the latest in a line of defensive backs to get a chance to play professionally after working under Phil Parker. Parker, Iowa’s defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator, won the 2023 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.

The talented defender has a big influence on DeJean.

“Playing for Coach Parker — it made me the football player I am today,” DeJean said during the Q&A portion. “He just expects so much from every single one of his guys on the defensive end. And I think that’s what makes us so good year in and year out. They’ll do it again this year, I’m sure. … So I owe a lot to him. He taught me a lot about the game that I didn’t know, from a small town in Iowa to the University of Iowa.”

Another person who had an impact on DeJean’s career at Iowa was Jack Campbell. The linebacker had a stellar career for the Hawkeyes before being selected by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

“It’s not so much that he pushed me — it’s just that I’m trying to follow in his footsteps,” DeJean said of Campbell. “The way he did his stuff when he was here. He’s a quieter guy, but when he was on the football field, you could definitely hear him. He practiced every day like it was a game. He would go full speed on guys. … He’s a guy that I looked up to when I came here.”

During Saturday’s Q&A portion, a topic that was sure to come up did indeed get to DeJean.

“Was it a fair catch or not?” asked one member of the crowd.

The question, of course, was a reference to a controversial call in Iowa’s game against Minnesota last season. What should have been a DeJean punt-return touchdown was disallowed after officials ruled that DeJean moved his arm in a fair-catch motion.

“No,” DeJean said, drawing laughter and applause.

More: Iowa football ranks 13th in EA Sports College Football 25’s defensive strength rankings

DeJean’s Thoughts on Iowa’s 2024 Season

Despite much uncertainty surrounding Iowa’s offense heading into the season, expectations for Iowa American football in 2024 are still high.

“I’m excited for them,” DeJean said of Iowa’s 2024 team. “They’ve got a good roster coming back, both defensively and offensively. So I think those guys are working hard now over the summer. They’re ready to go this fall.”

DeJean, who has seen Iowa’s defensive line up close, gave his thoughts on some of these players.

“There’s a lot of younger guys that are really starting to step up and work their way up the depth chart,” DeJean said. “Obviously I saw a little bit of Koen Entringer last year on special teams, what he can do, the way he plays. Deshaun Lee, obviously John Nestor, TJ Hall, those guys. I think they’re really going to help this football team this fall. Whether it’s special teams again or on the defensive end.”

Nestor, a rising sophomore defender, has been making waves this offseason.

“He’s almost like my little brother,” DeJean said when asked about Nestor. “He was my roommate in fall camp last year. He plays the game hard. I think Hawk fans are going to love him.”

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