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Self-taught LB Jack Campbell Reaches New Heights With Hawkeyes

Jack Campbell remembers questions about him when he was recruited.

Some coaches were concerned about the size of the Iowa linebacker.

“Like, ‘A 6-5 linebacker? Oh, you don’t have to be able to move,” Campbell said.

A coach had a different concern.


“I didn’t have my right ankle bent, or something like that,” he said.

Even Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz wasn’t sure.

“If it were up to me, he would be a center or a defensive end, but I was eliminated on both counts,” Ferentz said Tuesday. “Bad veto. “

Now in his third year on the program, no one thinks Campbell is poorly presented as a linebacker.

“He just sets the tone with the way he plays,” said safety Jack Koerner. “You saw that the other day.

Campbell was named Bronko Nagurski’s National Player of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after posting a career-high 18 tackles in the No. 5 Hawkeyes 24-14 win over Colorado State.

Campbell averages 10.8 tackles per game to lead the team to place second in the conference and eighth nationally.

“I don’t think it’s a surprise the way he’s playing,” Ferentz said. “It’s just who he is. He has speed.”

Campbell has played a role in three of Iowa’s nine takeaways this season. He returned a fumble for a touchdown against Iowa State, forced a Kent State fumble at the Iowa 1-yard line, and recovered a fumble at Colorado State 6 to establish the tying touchdown in the second half. last Saturday.

“I’m just trying to get around the ball, first and foremost,” said Campbell. “And then generally good things happen.”

Campbell was a three-star rookie from Cedar Falls, Iowa High and chose the Hawkeyes over offers from the state of Iowa, Minnesota and northern Iowa.

He saw limited action in 11 games in 2019 and started the pandemic-shortened 2020 season late due to a case of mononucleosis. He started the last five games last year and entered spring training No.1 on the low side linebacker depth chart. He moved up to middle linebacker in the fall.

“For me, my mindset is to do whatever I can for the team, to put them in the best position,” said Campbell. “If that means sacrificing a part of my body, or something like that, I’m going to do it. I have complete faith in every relationship I have on this pitch. I don’t want to let anyone down.”

He might be 2-3 inches taller than the prototypical linebacker, but his body type didn’t hold him back. He seemed to be all over Colorado State.

“It’s just never giving up on a game no matter how far down the field he is,” Campbell said. “Just give a total effort every time. Eye discipline, fundamentals, it starts right there.”

In the Rams’ second possession, which lasted 10 games, he was on four tackles, and the first of his three breakouts forced them to return the ball to the downs. On his game-changing breakaway recovery, the ball bounced straight off him after A’Jon Vivens couldn’t hang on to a transfer, and Tyrone Tracy Jr. scored in the next play. to equal it to 14.


While the 243-pound Campbell is unusually tall for a linebacker, Ferentz said, he excels because of the way he has developed to play the position and his high intensity in games and practices.

“Boy, he’s going strong,” Ferentz said.

And the people who doubted Campbell are gone.

“I just showed up everyday,” he said. “I kind of take this approach – no one has ever believed in you, but if you show up every day and give it your all, good things are going to happen.”