Can you win an award meant to honor season-long accomplishments with a single game performance? The answer is "yes, definitely" -- but usually that game comes near the end of the season, not right at the beginning of the year. In the case of Riley Moss, though, he may have played the best game of the year by a Big Ten defensive back way back in the season opener -- and he parlayed that all the way into the Big Ten's 2021 Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award.
Moss was outstanding in Iowa's season opener against Indiana, not just snaring two interceptions of Indiana's Michael Penix, Jr., but returning both interceptions for touchdowns as well. And doing so in the first half, no less. Moss also snared interceptions against Maryland and Penn State; his total of four picks ranked second on the team (behind Dane Belton) and was also second in the Big Ten and nationally. In addition to those five interceptions, Moss was also credited with four pass break-ups and had 31 tackles (28 solo stops) and two TFL, as well as a heady fumble recovery in the end zone against Kent State.
I actually think you can make a credible case for Dane Belton to also win Defensive Back of the Year -- he finished the regular season with 41 tackles (26 solo), 3 TFL, a team/conference/nation-leading 5 INT, 7 pass break-ups, and 3 QB hurries -- but he didn't have the touchdowns that Moss did. Regardless, Moss is a worthy avatar for an Iowa secondary that leads the NCAA in interceptions (22) and there's little doubt that Iowa's pass defense was at its best when Moss was on the field.
Riley Moss is the fifth Iowa player to win the Big Ten's Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award. The award was created in 2011, meaning that Iowa players have been fully half of the honorees since its creation. Phil Parker is pretty damn good at his job, you guys. The other Iowa winners:
2012: Micah Hyde
2015: Desmond King
2017: Josh Jackson
2018: Amani Hooker
Iowa defensive backs just keep kicking ass, swiping balls, and defending passes. You love to see it -- and long may it continue.
Congratulations to Riley Moss on adding to Iowa's already very rich legacy at defensive back.