Josh Jackson Named Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year

By RossWB on November 30, 2017 at 11:34 am
Josh Jackson is awesome.
© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

YOINK. That's the sound of Josh Jackson snatching something out of the air and making it his. For most of this season that something was a football; Jackson snared a Big Ten-best (and NCAA-best) seven interceptions this season. The same day that he received the Jack Tatum Award, Jackson was also named to the All-Big Ten first team defense (along with Josey Jewell) and received the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award from the Big Ten coaches and media: 


Jackson was pretty much stellar in pass coverage this year. As previously noted, he led the Big Ten (and tied for the NCAA lead) in interceptions with seven. Even when he wasn't able to haul in the interception, though, Jackson was often able to get his hands on the ball. He led the Big Ten (and the NCAA) with a whopping 25 passes defended (seven interceptions and 18 passes broken up). As an opposing quarterback, you threw in Josh Jackson's direction at your peril. Jackson led the Big Ten in interception return yards (163) and tied for the lead in interceptions returned for touchdowns with two (along with Rutgers' Kiy Hester). And don't just take our word for it -- Pro Football Focus has some pretty impressive stats for Jackson as well:

This award had been trending in Jackson's direction for a while after a string of strong performances to start the season, but he probably locked it up with back-to-back standout performances against Ohio State and Wisconsin in November. Against Ohio State, Jackson snared not one, not two, but three interceptions, with his final pick being particularly highlight-worthy. 

Against Wisconsin Jackson was not only Iowa's best defensive player, he was their best offensive player too -- he intercepted two passes and managed to return both of them for touchdowns, the only time an Iowa player was ever in the Wisconsin end zone. His numbers declined a bit in the final two games of the regular season as opponents widely decided to stop testing him much. Purdue made it a key part of their (very successful) strategy to target Iowa's non-Josh Jackson cornerbacks. Nebraska's Tanner Lee sprayed the ball around a bit, especially in the second half, but Jackson wasn't able to haul in any of Lee's errant passes for an interception (though he came very close on one occasion). 

Jackson becomes the third Iowa player to win the Defensive Back of the Year Award and the second in the past three seasons. Micah Hyde won the award back in 2012 (that season wasn't entirely bad!) and Desmond King won the award in his dominant 2015 campaign. His efforts to repeat last season were stymied by the fact that opposing quarterbacks simply avoided throwing the ball near him for most of the season. If Jackson elects to return to Iowa next fall, he could face the same fate. 

Jackson's award, along with Josey Jewell winning Big Ten Linebacker and Defensive Player of the Year, gives Iowa 33 individual awards all time, still fourth-most among Big Ten schools. Only players from Ohio State (52), Michigan (45), and Wisconsin (38) have received more individual awards than Iowa players. A very hearty congratulations to Josh Jackson, who has balled out at an incredibly high level this year and been a blast to watch in Iowa's secondary. 

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