top of page

Iowa at Penn State: Iowa Draft Prospects

by Emmet Mahon


Photo courtesy of The Daily Iowan.


Over their tenure in the Big 10, Penn State has developed a reputation for not having established any true rivals. Ironically, the football team bills itself as “Unrivaled”. Games against Michigan and Ohio State immediately draw the attention of Nittany Lion fans when they appear on many PSU team schedules. Penn State has played Michigan State for the bragging rights to the Land Grant Trophy. Each of these schools evoke different levels of passion among the faithful. However, none are considered a true rival. With Penn State hosting the Iowa Hawkeyes this weekend, perhaps an under the radar, intense rivalry is in the making.


Rooted in the strong dislike the two school’s wrestling squads have developed as the nation’s premier power programs, the football teams have played a series of hard fought, physical, throw-back games. While there has been a grudging level of respect in the past, things turned a little nasty and angry following Iowa’s 23-20 home victory in 2021.


During the game, several key Lions exited due to injury. Iowa partisans believed the injuries were an attempt to slow down the pace of the Hawkeye offense. It is an interesting theory in that traditionally, the Iowa offense has matriculated the ball down the field slower than the rate of paint drying. To this day, social media posts show Iowa fans and staff mocking those injuries, incurring the wrath of Nittany Nation. Penn State fans have spent this week’s run up to the game reposting these images with an anger rarely seen since Pearl Harbor.


This week, Penn State will face an opponent unlike any of the ones defeated in their first three games. Iowa represents the stingiest defensive opponent so far this season. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz has assembled another veteran defensive unit. It is very deep in returning letterman and is designed to drag the opposition into a street fight. This defense is greater than the sum of its solid but unspectacular parts.


The offense is better than in previous years, but not remotely approaching elite. Penn State needs to avoid the sluggish starts it displayed against West Virginia and Illinois. Iowa plays the type of game that can lull one into a sense of complacency and steal a victory.


Team Overview

#7 Penn State (3-0, 1-0) #24 Iowa (3-0, 0-0)

PPG scored: 43.67 28.33

PPG allowed: 11.67 12.33

Rushing YPG: 208.3 151.3

Rushing allowed YPG: 96.7 106.7

Passing YPG: 259.0 150.7

Passing allowed YPG; 170.7 179.3

Time of possession: 34:19 30:47

Opponent TOP: 25:41 29:13


Iowa Prospects to Watch: Prospect rankings courtesy of Top 400 Composite of mockdraftdatabase.com


#15 S Cooper DeJean

DeJean is Iowa’s only likely first round draft pick. He is a long bodied safety at 6’1”, 207 pounds. He is an athletic ballhawk on the back end. When he gets his hands on the ball, he knows what to do with it, having returned three of five interceptions during his sophomore campaign for touchdowns. He does not shy away from contact and is an asset against the run game.


This season, DeJean has 11 solo tackles and has broken up one pass. Errant throws by Penn State in his direction could cause serious trouble. DeJean should be under consideration as the first safety selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. DeJean is a pre-season Bronko Nagurski Trophy selection as the nation’s Defensive Player of the Year and for the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back. He has been named to multiple pre-season 1st team lists.


#100 RG Connor Colby

Big, strong offensive linemen are as synonymous with Iowa as corn. Colby is no exception. He is powerful enough to fend off pass rushers or to punch holes for running backs to get to the next level. Does not get easily knocked out of position and is consistent with his approach. He can get into trouble in close quarters once defenders get their hands on him.


#169 P Tory Taylor

Taylor is on the pre-season watch list for the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter. If Penn State’s defense plays up to its billing, he will have ample opportunity to add to his resume. Already this season, he has launched six punts over 50 yards and has five that have landed inside the 20 yard line. He is averaging 46.1 yards per kick over 16 punts.


#170 TE Erick All

If Iowa is famous for corn and offensive linemen, the tight end position is closing ground rapidly. NFL rosters currently feature former Iowa tight ends George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and Sam LaPorta. Injured stand out Luke Lachey and Erick All figure to join those ranks next NFL season.


Lachey (#119) will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury. All will become one of the focal points of the Hawkeye attack. His precise route tree and consistent hands will make him a desirable target. The Michigan transfer was named to the pre-season John Mackey Award watch list for the nation’s top tight end. This season he has caught seven passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. His longest reception was 34 yards.


#303 LT Mason Richman

Richman is a leader on the field and in the classroom having earned Academic All-Big Ten following the 2021 and 2022 seasons. At 6’6” and 312 pounds, the Kansas native is athletic and versatile having played multiple spots along the offensive line. He is one of Iowa’s most experienced linemen, having seen action since his true freshman year. Not surprisingly, Richman’s forte is run blocking. He has been a vital component in this year’s Iowa team, which is producing at a slightly higher than historical output. Richman was a pre-season 3rd team All-Big Ten member.


#340 RDT Logan Lee

6’5” and 291 pounds. The senior DT has recorded three solo tackles and seven assisted tackles in 2023. He has yet to register a sack or a quarterback hurry. He is a pre-season 2nd team All-Big Ten member. Lee is looked to for his locker room presence and maturity. He is married.


#354 LDT Yahya Black

The Minnesota native has played extensively since joining the Hawkeye’s program in 2020. This season, the 6’5”, 315 pound junior has 12 tackles, four of which were solo. He has no sacks, tackles for loss or quarterback hurries. Despite seeing time every season, this is his first as a starter. Strong and unrefined, Black has tools that can be polished to contribute at the next level. He needs to work on getting to the quarterback.


N/R QB Cade McNamara

The Michigan transfer was a highly regarded, four-star recruit out of Nevada. He never developed as hoped with the Maize and Blue and was bypassed by more productive signal callers. Thus, necessitating the move to Iowa City. He’s intelligent and accurate, but lacks the big arm strength to complete most chunk receptions. Solid leadership traits led to him being named to the Players Council despite just joining the Hawkeye program. He’s an Academic All-American and was named to the pre-season watch lists for both the Maxwell and Johnny Unitas Award for quarterback play. Currently 60th rated Quarterback by nflmockdraftdatabase.com.


Iowa will not wow any spectator with eye popping play. The Hawkeyes' game strength is consistency, tenacity, and teamwork. It is good enough to garner them the 24th ranking in the AP Top 25 and it would surprise almost no one if they represented the Western Conference in the Big Ten title game. Iowa and Penn State have always waged pitched battles, and this Saturday should be no different. This will be the Nittany Lions toughest test until they reach the Ohio State/Michigan gauntlet. A home loss during the annual White Out would be a monumental letdown for Penn State and their fans.


Notes: Profiles for Penn State prospects can be found at Draft 412’s preview of the game at Illinois. Kickoff for this game is 7:40 P.M. The game will be broadcast by CBS. The play-by-play announcer is Brad Nessler. The analyst is Gary Danielson. The sideline reporter is Jenny Dell. This is Penn State’s annual “White Out” game. Rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Ophilia is expected during the game.


Emmet Mahon can be reached at emmet@draft412.com

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page