Talk about a first impression.
Making his first start for the Iowa football program, true freshman safety Xavier Nwankpa capitalized, intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown in the Music City Bowl.
Nwankpa snagged an errant throw from Kentucky quarterback Destin Wade and weaved his way for a 52-yard house call.
Nwankpa’s first career start came after usual starting safety Kaevon Merriweather opted out of the bowl game in preparation for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Hawkeye fans have been waiting to see Nwankpa on the defensive side of the ball. The 247 Sports five-star prospect out of Southeast Polk chose Iowa in December last year over the likes of Ohio State, Notre Dame, Alabama and others. Ranked by the Des Moines Register as the No. 1 in-state prospect overall in the 2022 class and 247 Sports’ No. 1 safety nationally, Nwankpa was one of the biggest in-state recruiting wins of Kirk Ferentz’s tenure with the Hawkeyes.
So when Nwankpa made the most of his first career start, Iowa fans made sure to celebrate.
Xavier Nwankpa’s interception return against Kentucky amazes Iowa football fans
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Adam Hensley is a digital producer with the USA Today Network. You can follow him on Twitter @A_Hens83 or reach him at email@example.com.
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