The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Jer’Zhan Newton named 2023 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year

Defensive+linebacker+JerZhan+Newton+faces+off+against+Michigan+State+on+Nov.+5%2C+2022+during+Dads+Day.+
James Hoeck
Defensive linebacker Jer’Zhan Newton faces off against Michigan State on Nov. 5, 2022 during Dads Day.

Illinois football went through a lot of ups and downs throughout a 5-7 season, but recognition for its best player was in order from the Big Ten. Junior defensive tackle Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton was named the Big Ten’s defensive player and defensive lineman of the year in a season that saw his NFL draft stock soar to first-round heights.

Newton led his team in sacks with 7.5 and tied for second in the conference in the same category. The fourth player in program history to win the DPOY award, Newton blocked a whopping four kicks en route to the award, earning nominations for national awards as well.

The St. Petersburg, Florida native is the only defensive tackle listed as a Nagurski Trophy finalist, annually given to the best defensive player across college football. The 6-foot-2, 295-pound lineman has been projected by many to go in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft, similar to former Illinois teammate Devon Witherspoon, who was drafted last year by the Seattle Seahawks with the No. 5 overall pick.

Newton also led the nation across the past two seasons with over 100 quarterback pressures, with nobody coming even close to matching that mark. According to Pro Football Focus’ draft board, Newton is the No. 10 prospect in the upcoming draft, was named a midseason All-American and likely will be named an end-of-season All-American when the names are revealed.

 

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    About the Contributors
    Adam Rosen, Assistant Sports Editor
    Hello! I’m Adam and I’m a senior majoring in journalism. I’m one of the assistant sports editors, and this is my second year with The DI. I love to talk about sports, so if you have any questions or desire to talk about a random athlete from 10 years ago or why Messi > Ronaldo, contact me at my email below!
    James Hoeck, Photo Editor
    Heyo! I am James Hoeck, a third-year undergraduate student in photography with a minor in media. I have been a part of Illini Media for two years, starting back in fall 2021. I hold the position of Photo Editor here at The Daily Illini. I also work as Photo Editor for Illini Media’s Illio Yearbook. There is a good chance you will see me out and about on campus taking photos for my personal work or for The DI and/or Illio! If you want to check out more of my work, visit my socials linked below.
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