Iowa football's Jack Campbell named finalist for 2022 Butkus Award
In Iowa football's biggest win of the 2022 season, a 13-10 road victory over Minnesota last Saturday, its two biggest plays came from its best player: linebacker Jack Campbell.
His forced fumble and subsequent interception on the following drive late in the fourth quarter not only kept Minnesota off the scoreboard but also set up Iowa for what would be the game-winning field goal with 21 seconds left.
Campbell, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, has cemented his place among the best linebackers in Iowa history with his play this season. On Tuesday, he received an honor that few in the program have earned. Campbell was named a finalist for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation's top linebacker. He joins Larry Station (second place in 1985) and Josey Jewell (2016) as the only finalists in school history. Other finalists include Jamon Dumas-Johnson (Georgia), Daiyan Henly (Washington State), Ivan Pace Jr. (Cincinnati) and Drew Sanders (Arkansas).
Neither Campbell's teammates nor coach Kirk Ferentz were surprised by those two game-changing plays or his 10-tackle day vs. Minnesota. They've come to expect special things each time he takes the field.
"You need your best guys playing their best and Jack shows up every week and does that," Ferentz said. "Obviously we all know (Jack) intimately in our program and I can't say enough about him, just the way he plays. His resiliency, his positive nature, everything about him is just first-class."
Jack Campbell's notable season with Iowa football
A preseason All-American, Campbell's lived up to the hype through 11 games this season. He leads the team with 107 total tackles while also recording 3.5 tackles for loss and 2 interceptions. He's been a core piece of the Hawkeye defense that ranks among the nation's elite in almost every statistical category. As the unit, the defense ranks first nationally in yards per play allowed (4.01), fifth in scoring defense (13.5) and sixth in total defense (273.3 yards per game).
On Tuesday afternoon Campbell commented on what the honor meant to him. The senior isn't big on individual accomplishments, and opted to give the credit to his teammates.
"I feel like that all comes just with my teammates," Campbell said. "I feel like they do all the dirty work and just let me run around, so I'm just so appreciative of them, first and foremost. But right now, we just got to finish. We just have to finish strong focusing on Nebraska. If everything falls into place, it'll fall into place, but right now our main focus is on Nebraska."
Campbell's leadership has also been notable throughout the season. He spoke in support of the Iowa offense in the midst of early-season struggles, most notably after the Iowa State game. He was one of the key voices during the team's three-game losing streak, and his message of daily improvement wasn't lost on his teammates. One month later, the Hawkeyes are one win away from back-to-back Big Ten titles.
"If you buy into doing just the little things every day consistently, it's going to add up," Campbell said after the Minnesota game. "You might not see it day one, you might not see it day 43, but you might see it on day 122. That's kind of where I feel like this push through has happened."
Friday afternoon against Nebraska will be Campbell's final game at Kinnick as he's a projected top linebacker prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. He bypassed the 2022 NFL Draft without hesitation for one more season at Iowa. With Tuesday's announcement and an impending big game on Friday, his 2022 campaign has been highlighted by team success and personal accolades.