Iowa football linebacker Jack Campbell remains focused on the final game at Kinnick Stadium

The senior has received All-Big Ten and All-America honors during his career at the Hawkeyes. He is also one of five finalists for the 2022 Dick Butkus Award.

Grace Smith

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell carries the ball into the end zone after an interception during a football game between Iowa No. 17 and Illinois at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, November 20, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illinois 33-23 in their final home game of the season.

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell could play his final game at Kinnick Stadium on Friday.

The Cedar Falls senior has one year left to burn. But many pundits have predicted Campbell will be a second, third, or fourth NFL draft pick.

Campbell hasn’t specifically said he will leave Iowa for the NFL draft at the end of this season. But he has called Friday’s Iowa-Nebraska game his last at Kinnick.

“I’m only going to focus on the things that I need to focus on,” Campbell said Tuesday. “But at the same time I will enjoy it. I’m going to hug all four of my parents and just let them know and thank them for everything they’ve done for me.”

Campbell joined the Iowa program in 2018 and has since received All-Big Ten and All-America honors.

He is currently one of five finalists for the Dick Butkus Award – an award given annually to the nation’s top linebacker. However, Campbell said his spot on the list should be credited to his teammates.

“I feel like they’re going to do all the dirty work and just let me walk around,” Campbell said. “So I’m just so grateful to them.”

Campbell’s humble demeanor and solid performances on the field have made him a favorite among his teammates, fans and coaches.

“Whether it’s on the field, off the field, or off the building, it’s not hard to like everything he does,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said of Campbell. “A first class guy.”

During his weekly press conference, Ferentz recanted a story about Campbell’s high school basketball career. He said the now 6-foot-5, 246-pounder committed five fouls in four minutes during one of his second hoops contests.

Ferentz added that he saw Campbell get better at basketball during his junior and senior seasons at Cedar Falls High School.

“He turned into a pretty good high school basketball player on a really good team,” Ferentz said. “He did the same in football. He just gets better with every opportunity.”

Ferentz also said Campbell was one of the best linebackers his program has ever had, and grouped the enterprise leadership major with the likes of former Minnesota Viking Chad Greenway and current Denver Bronco Josey Jewell.

Teammate Brody Brecht said football would be a different place in Iowa without Campbell.

“Jack is obviously a super talented player,” said Brecht. “But you know, I think he’s an even better guy. We have Bible studies together and stuff like that. I just think he’s a really good guy.”

Defenseman Lukas Van Ness praised Campbell’s consistency, noting that the team captain approaches games and practice the same way.

“Jack Campbell is a very special player – a great, great athlete on the football field, but a great athlete off the football field,” said Van Ness.

During his career in Iowa, Campbell has worked with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the patients at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Campbell said meeting patients — kid captains or otherwise — meant a lot to him and helped him gain perspective on his own situation.

“You don’t have the option that a lot of us have,” Campbell said. “And it’s something I try to keep in mind every day as I go in and out of this building.”

Campbell said his time in Iowa allowed him to refine himself as a player and as a person. He added that the discipline he learned on the football pitch could help him focus on getting the little things right in the real world.

Campbell also drew attention to the value of his relationships with his coaches and teammates. He said his friendship with fellow linebacker Seth Benson was particularly special.

“He’s just one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” Campbell said. “One of the most determined guys loves to prove people wrong. And he pushed me day after day. So he has my greatest respect for the rest of my life.”

Despite all the individual accolades he’s earned, Campbell said he’s most proud of helping the Hawkeyes reach the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game during his Iowa career.

“In Iowa, everyone’s goal is to get to Indy,” Campbell said.

With a win on Friday, Campbell and the Hawkeyes will advance to the Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the second straight year.