116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY – A highlight video from this past November shows Iowa commit Cooper DeJean at quarterback for OABCIG High School in Ida Grove, dodging tackles as he bounces to the left.
He’s within Van Meter’s 20-yard-line and just when one might think he’ll go down – he cuts to the right, bodies flailing and dropping to the ground as he gallops and accelerates to the right. Following his blockers along the outer edge, DeJean easily strides to the end zone, his arm with the ball outstretched in his right hand.
That made the score 32-26 with just over a minute left. The Falcons coasted to a 33-26 victory for their second state title under the DeJean regime.
“I had so many goosebumps and chills down my body,” DeJean said, recalling the memory.
DeJean’s football story is a reflection of his life. He likes to be constantly in motion, in season — on the field or court as an athlete. He’s played every position in football, but will arrive on campus at Iowa as a defensive back.
His father, Jason DeJean, said when his son met Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker, the regimented schedule of training appealed to him.
“He likes to stay busy, it almost drives me insane to be going somewhere doing something all the time,” Jason said.
On the field, seemingly every position he touches turns to gold.
As a sophomore, he was a first-team all-state receiver with more than 1,000 yards, also taking reps at cornerback and safety before moving in as starting quarterback his junior and senior years. Sometimes, he’d punt, if the team had to.
“Where we needed him, he would be willing to give it a shot,” OABCIG head football coach Larry Allen said.
During his senior year, DeJean completed 199 of 331 pass attempts for 3,447 yards and 35 touchdowns, rushing 131 times for 1,235 more yards with another 24 touchdowns. On defense, he finished the season with 53.5 tackles and three interceptions. As a result, DeJean was named the All-American Bowl Adidas Player of the Year.
Football was just another season to him. DeJean had his sights on being a college basketball player, traveling the country with AAU teams, until he received his recruiting questionnaire from Iowa during the summer between his sophomore and junior year.
But a life of sports was how he was raised. DeJean grew up the son of two former collegiate athletes. His dad was a basketball player at Huron University in South Dakota while his mom, Katie, was a softball player at both Briar Cliff and Huron University.
“He was also a heck of a baseball player in high school,” his dad said. “I’ve got friends that say that’s his best sport.”
He also has two younger brothers — Beckett, 15, and Jaxx, 12 — who play every sport, which keeps the family busy. DeJean said Beckett, who is next in line at quarterback for OABCIG, will soon have to make the same decision he did about his future, but might prefer basketball.
Even when DeJean isn’t playing sports, he’s training. During last year’s shutdown, DeJean and his friends gathered their weights together to create a gym at one of their basements to work out at and capped that off by playing daily rounds of golf at Spring Lake Golf & Country Club.
“I mean, he’s going to tell you he’s like Tiger Woods, but I don’t think he’s quite that good,” football teammate and friend Kolton Knop said. “He can hit it a long ways.”
Knop said there is one area where DeJean’s speed isn’t an advantage — and that’s driving his Chevy Malibu around town. He said he’s the worst driver.
“He drives like 80 everywhere he goes,” Knop said. “Finally, a few months ago, he got pulled over.”
Knop grew up with DeJean through sports, playing on opposing teams when they were younger. Knop always felt the two were the best athletes in the area, and that was back when DeJean played running back. He said in middle school the football team played six games a year, and after two years, had amassed a 12-0 record. That’s when they knew their team could be special.
Allen, the football coach, said DeJean didn’t start as a freshman, but saw some game time. He knew there was a special talent to him when he played receiver as a sophomore. But it was his overall confidence that made him an ideal leader at quarterback.
“In that championship game, the ball was supposed to be handed off,” Allen said. “I think at that point he just wanted the ball in his hands at the end of the game.”
When he goes to Iowa, DeJean will have the chance to focus on one side of the ball, one position group, one team. That’ll be new to him. But he’ll know what the opposing quarterback is thinking, since he’s been there before.
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