Oswego junior linebacker Carson Cooney commits to Iowa, ‘a dream situation’

Three-star prospect picks Hawkeyes from 11 scholarship offers

Oswego’s Carson Cooney hits Plainfield North's Robert Tota in the backfield for a loss during a football game at Plainfield North High School on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.

Before his recruitment took off, Carson Cooney made a pledge to himself that if Iowa offered him a scholarship, that was his choice.

He made it official Sunday.

Oswego’s junior linebacker, a three-star prospect and the 17th-ranked player in Illinois’ Class of 2025 by 247Sports, announced his verbal commitment to Iowa. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Cooney, the oldest son of Oswego coach Brian Cooney, chose the Hawkeyes from 11 offers including Wisconsin, Michigan State, Northwestern and Illinois.

“It was a dream situation. I got really lucky,” Cooney said. “I’ve always been a huge Iowa fan since I was growing up, went to a lot of their games, saw a lot of their games on TV. Also, the developmental piece as a linebacker, where I’m trying to get – my dream is to play in the NFL. The developmental piece at Iowa is greater than anybody offered.”

Cooney, who first played varsity football as a sophomore, was a standout this past season for an Oswego defense that allowed only 70 points during the regular season. Cooney had 71 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two pass breakups, one interception, one sack, one fumble recovery and one blocked field goal.

His recruitment really took off during the summer of 2023. He earned an offer from Illinois in early June and made an unofficial visit to Champaign later that month. Iowa offered Cooney during a visit to the Oswego campus by Iowa linebackers coach Seth Wallace on Oct. 26. Cooney said he went to a lot of game days in Iowa City and a couple spring practices. Cooney got the feeling this is where he wanted to be after attending Iowa’s junior day.

“I still haven’t taken it in. I am grateful, extremely grateful,” Cooney said. “It’s honestly crazy. This is a dream of mine. A dream come true.”

Cooney is following in the footsteps of another Oswego great to Iowa City.

Noah Shannon, an All-State defensive lineman and the 2017 Record Newspapers Player of the Year, went on to become a two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten player at Iowa. Coach Cooney said his family, and Carson specifically, made a connection to the Hawkeyes during that time.

“When Noah was out there tearing it up, I don’t think Carson missed a game. He was in there watching him,” Coach Cooney said. “Iowa was always in Carson’s mind, even before he was given the opportunity. It was always a dream school that definitely came through, something we all wanted.”

At Iowa, Cooney will join a program that’s become known for putting together elite defenses and developing pro prospects on that side of the ball.

Linebacker Jack Campbell, the 2022 Butkus Award winner given to the nation’s top linebacker, was a first-round pick by the Detroit Lions in 2023. Defensive end Lukas Van Ness, a Barrington native, went on to star at Iowa and was was a first-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2023.

“That was huge too, the defensive and developmental piece at Iowa,” Cooney said. “Personally, I feel like they have the best coaching staff in the nation on the defensive side. It will be cool to play in that atmosphere with that team.

“Jack Campbell, he’s a linebacker built like me length-wise, the position I play he came in as a high schooler and worked his way up and he was a first-round pick. Their developmental piece is like no other.”

Cooney said the Iowa coaching staff loved his length, his frame and his physicality, and see him as having the potential to play all three linebacker spots.

“What stood out to the majority of college coaches is his height and length,” Coach Cooney said. “He has really long legs and long arms and has the ability to play sideline to sideline. He doesn’t take too many plays off. He is full tilt and enjoys the physical aspect of the game.

“It’s sometimes hard to teach kids the willingness to put their foot in the ground and wreak some havoc. He’s got that down.”

Coach Cooney said that Wallace doesn’t sugarcoat things, that he tells kids exactly what he believes and where he is at. Cooney will probably end up redshirting his freshman season at Iowa.

“Continue to work and be ready,” Coach Cooney said. “They are huge in player development. That track is something he is on. Carson wasn’t looking for a school to go in first year and assume that he was going to play. He is willing to work, and looking forward to it.”