Jack Campbell recruitment: Iowa State making early push for Cedar Falls LB among in-state schools

Matthew Bain
The Des Moines Register

Fresh off a junior season that earned him a spot on the Register’s All-Iowa Elite Team, Cedar Falls linebacker Jack Campbell is poised for a busy spring.

Cedar Falls' Jack Campbell tackles West High quarterback Evan Flitz during their game on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.

Minnesota offered him last Friday, and he’d already held offers from Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa. He told the Register he plans to take official visits to all four schools this spring. He also said Michigan State and Nebraska have expressed interest, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him take a fifth official if one of those two extend an offer.

Once he’s done with his visits, Campbell, who can play middle or outside linebacker, said he hopes to make a college decision some time in March or April.

At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Campbell is a long, powerful linebacker who’s built a lot like Hawkeye signee Dillon Doyle. Campbell was the spearhead of Class 4A’s best defense, finishing his junior season at Cedar Falls with 92.5 tackles, 11 solo tackles for loss and five solo sacks.

The 247Sports Composite gives him three stars and ranks him the No. 6 prospect in the state’s 2019 class.

But he’s got incredible hands and a frame college strength coaches covet. Translation: His ceiling is quite high and he will be a priority 2019 prospect for all three of the state’s programs.

Campbell spoke with the Register on Tuesday and detailed his relationship with each school that has offered him. Here are the highlights from that conversation:

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell is presented with his team's trophy after beating Memphis in the Liberty Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. Iowa State won 21-20. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Iowa State

Campbell’s relationship with the Cyclones started last winter, when linebackers coach Tyson Veidt visited him at school. In January, Iowa State became his first offer.

Since then, Campbell has had regular contact with Cyclones coaches. In particular, Matt Campbell, who has clearly made the Cedar Falls linebacker one of his top 2019 priorities.

"Coach Campbell, I have a great relationship with him because he always texts me nowadays," Campbell said. "I like the way he coaches. He’s kind of a newer style of coaching, and he always shows that he cares about me and I think that’s pretty cool of him to do.

"He's obviously doing things right up there."

Campbell said coaches have told him he could play any linebacker position at Iowa State, and that they see him having an early impact.ff

He also said Matt Campbell’s contract extension plays a role in his decision-making process.

"With Iowa, you know the coaching staff is going to stay mostly the same — which is very nice," he said. "And with Iowa State, it was up in the air. But now that he’s signed it, it’s nice to know that if I go there, that’s going to be my coach and I’ll probably keep my same position coaches. So for that much of the process, I kind of know what’s what."

Iowa linebackers coach Seth Wallace reacts after an official made a call against the Hawkeyes during the Cy-Hawk game against Iowa State on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.


The Hawkeyes offered Campbell in June, five months after his Cyclones offer. He was a regular presence at Iowa games this year and said he’s been on six unofficial visits to Iowa City — the most of any school pursuing him.

Reese Morgan and Kelvin Bell led the initial recruiting effort. Then, when Campbell got on campus for a summer camp, he met linebackers coach Seth Wallace.

TALKING WITH BELL:Iowa's recruiting coordinator discusses 2018 class, 2019 future

"I like him a lot," Campbell said, "because he's going to hold you accountable in practice. And he’s going to let you know when you make mistakes. He just expects the best out of you every single day."

Campbell said he’s really been able to get a sense of the Iowa coaching staff’s character during his visits. He particularly appreciates how honest and up front the they are.

He said Iowa hasn’t labeled him as an outside or inside linebacker yet, but he sees himself as an outside linebacker in the Hawkeyes’ system.

He also had high praise for Kirk Ferentz.

"He’s kind of a quieter guy, but he also expects the best from you and he’s a great leader just because of how long he’s been there," Campbell said. "All his players respect him."

FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2017, file photo, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck acknowledges the the fans in the students section after a 24-17 victory over Illinois in a NCAA college football game in Minneapolis. The University of Minnesota and Fleck have agreed to a one-year contract extension through the 2022 season.  (AP Photo/John Autey, File)


This relationship developed quite recently. Gophers defensive line coach Bryce Paup has been the point man on this recruitment, and he texted Campbell with the offer last Friday.

Paup played football at Northern Iowa in the late 1980s with Campbell’s father, Dave, and that’s how the initial connection was made.

"They didn't do too good this year," Campbell said, "but I think they’ll turn it around with those guys up there."

In their text conversation Friday, Campbell said Paup told him they want him to come up to Minneapolis for an official visit.

Sep 2, 2017; Ames, IA, USA; Northern Iowa Panthers head coach Mark Farley walks the field before their game against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium.


Growing up in Cedar Falls with his dad a former Panther player, Campbell says he was a "diehard" UNI fan growing up.

His dad knows head coach Mark Farley well. Campbell said Farley invited him to campus last March and offered him on the spot.

Campbell has also talked with defensive coordinator Jeremiah Johnson.

UNI isn’t recruiting Campbell particularly hard at this point. That’s no reflection on their interest in him — Campbell would be a huge pick-up for the Panthers.

But, as an FCS program, UNI is especially busy finding kids who fell through the FBS cracks to finish up its 2018 class. It’ll worry more about 2019 kids once Feb. 7 comes and goes.

Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at mbain@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.