Iowa Football

All-Big Ten football 2018: Iowa's Amani Hooker is top defensive back

Ihmir Smith-Marsette earns return specialist of the year award

Iowa defensive back Amani Hooker runs down the sideline after intercepting a pass against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa defensive back Amani Hooker runs down the sideline after intercepting a pass against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Iowa junior defensive back Amani Hooker was named the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and sophomore wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette was named the Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year.

The honorees and defensive all-conference teams were announced by the Big Ten on Tuesday. The ofensive award winners will be announced Wednesday.

Sophomore defensive end A.J. Epenesa joined Hooker in earning first-team All-Big Ten honors, being named first team by media and second team by coaches. Junior defensive end Anthony Nelson was named second team by conference media and third team by coaches.

“Amani and Ihmir both made strides in their development as football players and leaders throughout the course of the season,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Both A.J. and (safety) Geno (Stone) also improved as younger players and played a bigger and bigger role as the season went on. For our seniors, the recognition is a result of their play on the field, and the leadership they have provided throughout their careers. It’s gratifying to see others recognize those contributions.”

Hooker is the fourth Hawkeye to earn the defensive back award, and the third in the past four seasons. Micah Hyde (2012), Desmond King (2015) and Josh Jackson (2017) previously earned the defensive back honor.

Hooker was named first-team All-Big Ten by coaches and media, while Smith-Marsette was named first team by media and second team by coaches.

Senior defensive tackle Matt Nelson, senior safety Jake Gervase and senior kicker Miguel Recinos earned honorable mention recognition from coaches and media. Stone, a sophomore, and senior defensive end Parker Hesse earned honorable mention from media. Hesse is Iowa’s Sportsmanship Award recipient.

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Click here for the complete list of All-Big Ten defense and special teams honorees.

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