Self-made LB Jack Campbell reaches new heights with Hawkeyes

Sep 28, 2021, 2:54 AM | Updated: 2:55 pm
FILE - Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum (7) is sacked by Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (31) durin...

FILE - Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum (7) is sacked by Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (31) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Iowa City, Iowa, in this Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, file photo. Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell has become a one-man wrecking crew. He's the Hawkeyes' leading tackler by far, his scoop and score broke open the Hawkeyes' win over Iowa State, and his fumble recovery set up the tying touchdown in a come-from-behind win over Colorado State. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Jack Campbell remembers the questions about him when he was being recruited.

Some coaches were worried about the height of the Iowa linebacker.

“Like, ‘A 6-5 linebacker? Oh, you must not be able to move,'” Campbell said.

One coaching staff had a different concern.

“I didn’t have the right ankle bend, or something like that,” he said.

Even Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz wasn’t sure.

“If it were up to me, he would be a center or a defensive end, but I got nixed on both of those,” Ferentz said Tuesday. “Vetoed badly.”

Now in his third year in the program, no one thinks Campbell is miscast as a linebacker.

“He just sets a tone with the way he plays,” safety Jack Koerner said. “You guys saw that the other day.”

Campbell was named Bronko Nagurski National Player of the Week and the Big Ten defensive player of the week after he made a career-high 18 tackles in the No. 5 Hawkeyes’ 24-14 win over Colorado State.

Campbell is averaging a team-leading 10.8 tackles per game to rank second in the conference and eighth nationally.

“I don’t think it’s a surprise the way he’s playing,” Ferentz said. “It’s just who he is. He’s got one speed.”

Campbell has played a role in three of Iowa’s nine takeaways this season. He returned a fumble for a touchdown against Iowa State, forced a Kent State fumble at Iowa’s 1-yard line and recovered a fumble at the Colorado State 6 to set up the tying touchdown in the second half last Saturday.

“I just try to get around the ball, first and foremost,” Campbell said. “And then, usually, good things happen.”

Campbell was a three-star recruit coming out of Cedar Falls (Iowa) High and picked the Hawkeyes over offers from Iowa State, Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

He saw limited action in 11 games in 2019 and got a late start on the pandemic-shortened 2020 season because of a case of mononucleosis. He started the final five games last year and went into spring practice No. 1 on the depth chart at weakside linebacker. He moved to middle linebacker in the fall.

“For me, my mindset is to do everything I can for the team, to put them in the best position,” Campbell said. “If that means sacrificing some part of my body, or something, I’m going to do that. I have complete trust in all of the relationships I have on that field. I don’t want to let anyone down.”

He might be 2 or 3 inches taller than the prototypical linebacker, but his body type has not held him back. He seemed to be everywhere against Colorado State.

“It’s just never giving up on a play, no matter how far downfield it is,” Campbell said. “Just giving all-out effort every single time. Eye discipline, fundamentals, it just starts there.”

On the Rams’ second possession, which lasted 10 plays, he was in on four tackles, and the first of his three pass breakups forced them to turn the ball over on downs. On his game-turning fumble recovery, the ball bounced right to him after A’Jon Vivens couldn’t hold onto a handoff, and Tyrone Tracy Jr. scored on the next play to tie it at 14.

Though the 243-pound Campbell is unusually tall for a linebacker, Ferentz said, he excels because of how he developed himself to play the position and his high intensity in games and practices.

“Boy, he goes hard,” Ferentz said.

And the people who doubted Campbell have disappeared.

“I just show up every day,” he said. “I kind of take that approach — no one ever believed in you, but if you show up every day and give it your all, good things are going to happen.”

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives against Brooklyn Nets forward Blake Griffin (...
Associated Press

AP source: Celtics agree to terms with big man Blake Griffin

BOSTON (AP) — Veteran big man Blake Griffin has agreed to a contract with the Boston Celtics, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Friday. The person confirmed the move to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. It was first reported by ESPN. […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Morocco fumes over Adidas design of Algerian soccer jersey

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — The Moroccan government called on sports apparel company Adidas to pull off the market its new jersey collection for Algeria’s national soccer team, alleging that the featured mosaic pattern amounted to “cultural appropriation” of Moroccan heritage. Morocco’s Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication said in a statement that the design on […]
2 days ago
FILE - Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett stands on the field during an NFL preseason foo...
Associated Press

Browns’ Garrett: Crash a ‘wake-up’ call, grateful to survive

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Myles Garrett knows he’s lucky. His life could be very different or even over. Speaking for the first time since losing control and flipping his Porsche after practice on Monday, the Browns’ star defensive end expressed relief that he survived the crash he caused by driving too fast. “Definitely grateful to […]
2 days ago
FILE - Texas players sing "The Eyes Of Texas," after defeating Kansas State 22-17 in an NCAA colleg...
Associated Press

College athletics sees surge in nonprofits paying players

The new world of college athletes getting paid for endorsements has created a rapidly expanding pop-up industry: Brand new nonprofits that set up athletes to promote charities for a fee. The nonprofits are pitched as feel-good partnerships, but they also raises questions. Is their mission to support charities and their communities or do they exist […]
2 days ago
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a ceremony to sign the treaties for four regions o...
Associated Press

IOC’s Bach eyes return to sports for anti-war Russians

GENEVA (AP) — Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could be accepted back into international sports, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview published Friday. “It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, […]
2 days ago
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins passes the ball during a practice session in Thundridge,...
Associated Press

Winston doubtful, Dalton ready for Saints against Vikings

LONDON (AP) — Saints backup quarterback Andy Dalton is preparing to square off with Kirk Cousins again in London. Dalton is expected to start after Jameis Winston was listed as doubtful for New Orleans’ game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Dalton took first-team snaps again Friday with Winston missing a third […]
2 days ago
Self-made LB Jack Campbell reaches new heights with Hawkeyes