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A special Indianapolis homecoming for an Iowa football defensive star

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 26: Iowa Hawkeyes Sr. Linebacker Jay Higgins during the Big Ten Conference Media Days on July 26, 2023 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN (Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis is getting ready to host another Big Ten Football Championship game.

This year’s matchup will feature the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines (12-0, 9-0) against the Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2, 7-2).

Both teams have impressive defenses. And Iowa’s defense is led by someone who knows the city of Indianapolis extremely well.

Iowa senior linebacker Jay Higgins is an Indy native and said this week that he’s looking forward to playing in his hometown once again.

“Proud of my team for putting themselves in a position like this to play in such a big game,” Higgins said. “Can’t wait to play in front of my family back in Indianapolis.”

His family cannot wait to watch him play back home as well.

His father, Roy, recalled what was like after Iowa beat Illinois on Nov. 18 to clinch a spot in the conference title game.

“It was so emotional,” said Roy Higgins. “We figured that we had a good shot at it. But once it came to reality, it was just very overwhelming and emotional for me and my family.”

Roy Higgins, and many other family members and friends of Jay’s, will be attending the game on Saturday.

“I’m just excited,” said Roy Higgins. “I’m just one proud dad.”

One person who will not be attending the game on Saturday but will be glued to the television for it is Jay’s grandmother, Joyce Higgins.

“This week has just brought everybody together, all the grandbabies, nieces and nephews,” said Joyce Higgins. “I’m also from a large family with 16 siblings. So, people are calling from all the different states — Ohio, Maryland, D.C., Kentucky — just everywhere. Right now, we’re all Iowa fans.”

Joyce Higgins Interview

Many who will be watching Higgins this week know first-hand just how good of a football player the Iowa linebacker is. Higgins graduated from Brebeuf in 2020 and still owns the school record for most tackles in a career.

“I’d say what I learned at Brebeuf was really just how to communicate with people off the field,” said Jay Higgins. “I feel that that helps me out in my leadership role here on the team. Just having that ability to be able to connect with everybody.”

That ability to connect is easy to see this year since Higgins leads the Big Ten in tackles with 141.

“It’s just great to see someone who works so hard and has such a great attitude be rewarded in his play,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “And Jay is certainly a good example of that.”

Kickoff of the Big Ten Football Championship on Saturday is set for 8 p.m. EST inside Lucas Oil Stadium.