Iowa football's Jack Campbell becomes program's 13th unanimous All-American selection

Kennington Lloyd Smith III
Des Moines Register

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell's run of postseason honors is national confirmation of what the Hawkeye football universe has known throughout 2022 — the senior's presumed final season was special.

Last Thursday, Campbell became the program's first Butkus Award winner, given to the nation's top linebacker. His other honors include Nagurski-Wooden Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Butkus-Fitzgerald Big Ten Linebacker of the Year and the William V. Campbell Trophy. There was one more distinction left for Campbell as All-American teams have rolled in over the last week. And on Wednesday, he officially entered another select group of legendary Hawkeyes.

More:Iowa's Jack Campbell becomes first Hawkeye to win Butkus Award for nation's top linebacker

With his selection to the American Football Coaches Association All-American first team, Campbell is the 13th unanimous All-American in Iowa football history. He joins Tyler Linderbaum (2021), Daviyon Nixon (2020), Josh Jackson (2017), Josey Jewell (2017), Desmond King (2015), Brandon Scherff (2015), Shonn Greene (2008), Robert Gallery (2003), Dallas Clark (2002), Larry Station (1985), Chuck Long (1985) and Randy Duncan (1958) to receive the honor.

The NCAA recognizes the All-America teams selected by the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation to determine consensus and unanimous All-Americans.

"Jack is the ultimate teammate and a highly respected leader in our program," said coach Kirk Ferentz of Campbell after receiving the William V. Campbell Trophy. "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.” 

Statistically, Campbell's 2022 campaign featured 118 tackles, two interceptions, one recovered fumble, one forced fumble and 3.5 tackles for loss. He anchored a defense that was among the nation's elite, finishing the season ranked fourth nationally in total defense and sixth nationally in scoring defense. His defining moment came in Iowa's 13-10 win over Minnesota in November, a game with Big Ten West title implications. Campbell forced two turnovers on consecutive possessions that both prevented the Gophers from scoring late in the fourth quarter and set his own team up for the winning score.

"When I get on the field there's nothing more important in my life than to go out there and perform at the highest level and be the best linebacker I can be," Campbell said after the Minnesota game.

On Wednesday, Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell became the 13th unanimous All-American in program history.

Campbell's leadership was also a core piece to his 2022 season. He was a strong supporter of the often struggling Hawkeye offense, publicly defending them at every opportunity. He was one of the main voices of confidence during the team's three-game losing streak and a key leader in the late-season turnaround that almost ended in a division title. He was a team captain in all 12 of Iowa's games and was named a permanent team captain during the team's end-of-the-year award ceremony on Sunday.

A former three-star prospect from Cedar Falls, Campbell will leave Iowa's program as one of the best linebackers in school history. He became a starter during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and never looked back. Since then, he's started in 31 consecutive games, helped lead the Hawkeyes to the 2021 Big Ten West title and is a part of one of the winningest senior classes in school history.

More:Leistikow: Honoring an Iowa football senior class that has seen it all

And Campbell's 2022 season is not done yet. Despite high grades for the 2023 NFL Draft, he won't opt out of Iowa's Music City Bowl (Dec. 31 at 11 am), choosing to play one more time and potentially end his college career with another win.