247Sports includes Iowa pair among its top five defensive positional rankings

The Iowa Hawkeyes are known for their stingy defense.

Led by Broyles Award-winning defensive coordinator Phil Parker, the black and gold always pack a punch every Saturday. Naturally, the Hawkeyes have enjoyed plenty of star power over the years.

The 2024 college football season should be no different. Linebacker Jay Higgins and defensive back Sebastian Castro were among 247Sports’ top five returning defensive players at their respective positions.

Higgins cracked 247Sports’ top five returning linebackers, while Castro checked in among the top five returning cornerbacks. Castro actually started 10 games last season at Iowa’s famed hybrid linebacker-safety “Cash” position and another three at safety.

247Sports’ Grant Hughes points out that Castro has been graded as one of the top slot cornerbacks in college football per Pro Football Focus. Really, that just illustrates that Castro could play anywhere in Iowa’s defensive backfield.

The 5-foot-11, 205 pound graduate defensive back tallied 67 tackles, 11 pass breakups, eight tackles for loss, came away with three interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and scored a touchdown in the 2023 season.

Meanwhile, Higgins produced a monster season of his own for the Hawkeyes. Here’s what Hughes wrote about Higgins.

Iowa found a diamond in the rough in Higgins, a former three-star recruit who rated as the No. 63 inside linebacker in the class of 2020. He led all FBS defenders in 2023 with 985 snaps and ended the year as the most valuable linebacker in the country, per PFF’s wins above-average metric. – Hughes, 247Sports.

It’s just another indication of what Higgins brings back to the Iowa defense. The 6-foot-2, 233 pound linebacker bided his time for last season and made the most of it.

In his first full season starting, Higgins racked up 171 tackles, five tackles for loss, five pass breakups, two sacks, a forced fumble and one interception.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire