Iowa football linebacker Jack Campbell remains focused ahead of final game at Kinnick Stadium

The senior has received All-Big Ten and All-America honors during his career with the Hawkeyes. He is also one of five 2022 Dick Butkus Award finalists.


Grace Smith

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell carries the ball to the end zone after an interception during a football game between No. 17 Iowa and Illinois at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Campbell had on interception on the day for 32 yards. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 33-23 at the last home game of the season.

Sam Knupp, Sports Reporter

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell might play his last game at Kinnick Stadium on Friday.

The senior from Cedar Falls does have a year of eligibility left to burn. But many pundits have projected Campbell to be a second, third, or fourth-round NFL Draft pick.

Campbell has not explicitly said he’ll be leaving Iowa at the end of this season for the NFL Draft. But he has called Friday’s Iowa-Nebraska game his last at Kinnick.

“I’m just going to be focused on the things that I’ve got to be focused on,” Campbell said Tuesday. “But at the same time, I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to give all four of my parents a hug and just let them know and thank them for everything that they’ve done for me.”

Campbell joined the Iowa program in 2018 and has since earned All-Big Ten and All-America honors.

He is currently one of five finalists for the Dick Butkus Award — an honor annually bestowed upon the nation’s top linebacker. Campbell, however, said his place on the list should be credited to his teammates.

“I feel like they do all the dirty work and just let me run around,” Campbell said. “So, I’m just so appreciative of them.”

Campbell’s humble demeanor and solid on-field performances have made him a favorite among his teammates, fans, and coaches.

“Whether it’s on the field, off the field, away from the building, it’s not hard to like everything he does,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said of Campbell. “A top-notch guy.”

During his weekly press conference, Ferentz recanted a story about Campbell’s high school basketball career. He said the now-6-foot-5, 246-pounder committed five fouls in four minutes of action during one of his sophomore hoops contests.

Ferentz added that he saw Campbell get better at basketball during his junior and senior seasons at Cedar Falls High School.

“He became a pretty good high school basketball player on a really good team,” Ferentz said. “He’s done the same thing in football. He just improves with every opportunity.”

Ferentz also said Campbell is one of the best linebackers his program has ever had, grouping the Enterprise Leadership major with the likes of former Minnesota Viking Chad Greenway and current Denver Bronco Josey Jewell.

Teammate Brody Brecht said, without Campbell, Iowa football would be a different place.

“Jack’s obviously a super talented player,” Brecht said. “But you know, I think he’s even a better guy.  We have Bible study together and everything. I just think he’s a really good dude.”

Defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness complimented Campbell’s consistency, noting the team captain approaches games and practices the same way.

“Jack Campbell is a very special player — a great, great athlete on the football field, but a great athlete off the football field,” Van Ness said.

Throughout his Iowa career, Campbell has worked with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the patients at the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Campbell said meeting patients — Kid Captains or otherwise — has meant a lot to him and helped him gain perspective regarding his own situation.

“They don’t have the opportunity that a lot of us have,” Campbell said. “And it’s something that I try to keep in perspective on a daily basis, walking in and out of this building.”

Campbell said his time at Iowa has allowed him to refine himself as a player and person. He added that the discipline he learned on the football field can help him focus on doing the little things right in the real world.

Campbell also made note of how valuable his relationships with his coaches and teammates are. He said his friendship with fellow linebacker Seth Benson has been particularly special.

“He’s just one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around,” Campbell said. “One of the most determined guys, loves to prove people wrong. And he’s pushed me day in and day out. So, he has my utmost respect for the rest of my life.”

Despite all the individual accolades he’s earned, Campbell said the thing he’s most proud to have done during his career at Iowa is help the Hawkeyes make the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game.

“At Iowa, that’s everyone’s goal, is to get into Indy,” Campbell said.

With a win on Friday, Campbell and the Hawkeyes will advance to the Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for a second consecutive season.