IOWA CITY, Iowa– University of Iowa junior defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon has been named the Big Ten Conference Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year and the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year. The announcement was made by the Big Ten Conference on Wednesday.
Special teams honors will be announced Thursday.
Nixon becomes the first ever Hawkeye to earn defensive player of the year and defensive lineman of the year in the Big Ten in the same season. Iowa’s last Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year was Josey Jewell in 2017. Mitch King (2008) was the last Hawkeye to win Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Nixon and senior defensive end Chauncey Golston garnered first-team All-Big Ten honors by league coaches and media.
Senior defensive lineman Zach VanValkenburg (coaches & media) and junior defensive back Jack Koerner (media) were second-team All-Big Ten selections.
Koerner was named third-team All-Big Ten by league coaches, along with senior linebacker Nick Niemann. Niemann was also an honorable mention selection by media.
Four additional Hawkeyes earned honorable mention on defense: sophomore defensive back Dane Belton (coaches & media), junior defensive back Riley Moss (coaches & media), sophomore linebacker Seth Benson (media), and senior Matt Hankins (media).
Iowa’s nine All-Big Ten defensive honorees helped lead a defense that ranked second in the conference in total defense (313.8), third in scoring defense (16.0) and rushing defense (107.6), and fourth in pass defense (206.1).
Nixon, a Kenosha, Wisconsin, native earns his first career postseason honors. Nixon is tied with Golston for the Big Ten lead with 5.5 sacks, and Nixon leads the conference with 13.5 tackles for loss. Nixon is a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award, and a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy and Bednarik Award.
Golston, a Detroit, Michigan, native, earns his second career postseason nod after being an All-Big Ten honorable mention selection by league coaches and media last season. Golston’s 8.5 tackles for loss is tied for sixth in the conference with VanValkenburg. Golston is one of 24 semifinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
Nixon and Golston led an Iowa defense that ranks second in the Big Ten in sacks (22.0) and tackles for loss (52.0). The two each have 45 tackles and an interception to their name this season.
VanValkenburg, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week following his three-sack performance in Iowa’s win over Minnesota, earns his first career postseason nod. A Zeeland, Michigan, native, VanValkenburg’s 3.5 sacks is third on the team and his 8.5 TFLs are tied for sixth-best in the Big Ten. VanValkenburg shares the national lead with four fumble recoveries.
Koerner, a Des Moines, Iowa, native, earns his first career postseason honor. In his second year starting at free safety, Koerner racked up the third-most tackles (45) on the team, including 13 tackles in Week 1 to tie a career high. Koerner’s three interceptions tie for the fifth most in the conference.
Niemann, a native of Sycamore, Illinois, earns his first career postseason honor. Niemann recorded a team-high 77 tackles – second most in the Big Ten. Niemann racked up a career-high 17 tackles in Iowa’s win at Penn State.
Iowa’s final four honorable mentions – Belton, Moss, Benson, Hankins – all earned their first career postseason recognition from the conference.
Belton, a Tampa, Florida, native, tallied 33 tackles in eight starts. His five pass break-ups tied for the team high this season.
Moss, from Ankeny, Iowa, recorded two interceptions, including an interception returned 54 yards for a touchdown against Michigan State. His 43 tackles ranked sixth on the team.
In seven starts, Benson, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native, ranked second on the team with 47 tackles. Benson led the team in tackles in three games this season.
Hankins, a Lewisville, Texas, native tied for the team lead with five pass break ups this season. He recorded 41 tackles and one interception.
Iowa’s game against Michigan on Saturday has been canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Michigan football program. The Hawkeyes will learn their postseason bowl destination on Sunday, Dec. 20.