Iowa football linebacker Jack Campbell wins Butkus, William V. Campbell trophies

The Butkus Award, given to Campbell on Thursday, honors the nation’s top linebacker in college football.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell celebrates after a play during a football game between Iowa and Maryland at Maryland Stadium on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Iowa football senior Jack Campbell is the best linebacker in college football, the Butkus Award Foundation announced Thursday. Campbell won the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker.

The 6-foot-5, 246-pounder finished the 2022 regular season with 118 tackles — second in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Cal Haladay. Campbell also had two interceptions, a recovered fumble, and a forced fumble.

While multiple Hawkeyes in the Kirk Ferentz era have been nominated for the Butkus Award, Campbell is the first player to receive the honor. Former Hawkeye Chad Greenway was a semifinalist in 2005, and Josey Jewell made the semifinals in 2016 and 2017. 

“Jack Campbell is a tough, smart, consistent football player and exceptional leader. When the Hawkeyes needed a spark, he found ways to make big plays and elevated the performance of everyone around him,” the Butkus Committee said, according to 247 Sports’ David Eickholt. “His intelligence, leadership ability and contributions in the community will make him an excellent representative of the Butkus Award.”

Campbell’s honor comes two days after he won another national award: the William V. Campbell Trophy. 

The William V. Campbell Trophy does not just award players for their on-field performance — it also combines academic success and exemplary leadership, according to the National Football Foundation. Campbell will get a $25,000 scholarship along with his award, which was presented to him in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Campbell is the first player in Iowa football program history to achieve the honor.

Campbell, an enterprise leadership major and sport and recreation management minor, has a 3.49 grade point average at the University of Iowa. The Cedar Falls, Iowa, native is also a three-year member of Iowa’s Player Leadership Council.

“This is a very deserving honor for Jack,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said in a statement. “Jack is the ultimate teammate and a highly respected leader in our program. His athletic and academic success is the direct result of his strong work ethic. Jack is an outstanding representative of our football program, the University of Iowa, his family, and the Cedar Falls community.” 

In an acceptance speech, Campbell credited his family, including his mom, dad, stepmom, and stepdad, for making him into the person he is today. He also thanked Ferentz and the rest of the Iowa coaching staff.

“Coach Kirk Ferentz: one of the most upright, respected men I’ve ever met,” Campbell said. “Just the integrity that he comes in with every day that he sheds on to the student-athletes at the University of Iowa is fantastic. A guy that any kid would be lucky to play for.”

Campbell will have a reception in his honor at the New York Athletic Club on Dec. 12 and will also be recognized during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at SoFi Stadium — the home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers — on Jan. 9, 2023.

The senior is also the Big Ten Defensive Player and Linebacker of the Year, as well as a first-team All-Big Ten honoree.

Campbell technically has one more year of eligibility left because of the NCAA’s COVID-19 policies, but he has not yet announced what his plans will be for 2023. Multiple outlets expect Campbell to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Campbell did confirm on Nov. 25, however, that he will play for Iowa against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 in Nashville. 

“The opportunity to throw the tigerhawk on the side of your head and put that jersey on, that is something that every kid should try to seize,” Campbell said on Nov. 25. “ … I’m proud to be a Hawkeye and always will be.”

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