IOWA CITY, Iowa — Jack Campbell didn’t know walking into Seth Wallace’s office was going to seal his recruitment.
Wallace, Iowa’s linebackers coach since 2016, pulled up the heights, weights and how much iron was pumped by former Hawkeyes players such as Ben Niemann and Chad Greenway upon their arrival. An accompanying chart showed their progress over their Iowa careers.
For a linebacker such as Campbell, basing so much of his decision on a team’s ability to develop him, it was the perfect recruiting pitch.
The 2019 3-star Cedar Falls High School product didn’t commit until late March, but this visit convinced Campbell to join the Hawkeyes.
“That kind of clicked with me because Coach Wallace was comparing those guys to come and then I could see myself in their shoes,” Campbell said.
With his commitment out of the way, Campbell can get back to what he truly wants to do: maximize his potential before arriving at Iowa.
“I am just kind of relieved to not have to worry about this stuff any more,” Campbell said. “I’m really, really excited to be a Hawkeye, but it’s a lot of work to be done. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Meet Jack Campbell
Campbell is the rare kind of high school recruit. He gives an honest self-assessment. He knows he’s a 3-star prospect, not a 5-star ready-made player.
He’s 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, and in need of some additional weight to excel in the Big Ten. His ability to identify receivers in pass coverage can improve. He is athletic, but wants to become faster.
Oh yeah, and he can’t stand so upright when hitting tackles on opposing offensive lines.
“I just have to get lower,” Campbell said. “It’s not going to be possible to take on a 300-pound lineman if I am staying as big as I have lately.”
He knows there is a lot of work to do. This is why a program’s ability to develop him was one of the biggest keys to his recruitment.
He’s focused on it. His college home needed to as well.
On the surface, Campbell and Iowa are an ideal match. Iowa’s culture is all about personal growth and development. Campbell fits the mold of the Hawkeyes’ ideal recruit, arriving with a blue-collar mentality ready to embrace a culture centered around hard work and self-improvement.
“Part of our job when out recruiting is we want to make sure that we have all the information we have to make sure we are bringing the right kid in here that will fit what we are asking to do,” Iowa recruiting coordinator Kelvin Bell said. “We won’t compromise anything because you have a responsibility, not just to the other coaches, but a responsibility to the players in the locker room as well.”
The surprise with Campbell’s recruitment is that meeting with strength coach Chris Doyle didn’t seal the commitment. Doyle is the architect behind the workouts that allowed players built like Campbell to make significant gains and turn into Big Ten starters.
Campbell and Doyle did speak, multiple times. Doyle told Campbell about the shakes and nutrients the team provides to pack on pounds. He explained how he’ll push him out of his comfort zone to make him grow and that work ethic is a requirement to thrive at Iowa.
But he never brought up his success stories.
“He likes keeping quiet with that,” Campbell said.
What comes next?
Campbell enjoyed the recruiting process and getting to know the coaching staffs at Iowa State and Minnesota, his other finalists.
But his recruitment, and the media attention around it, took time away from his development. It’s why he’s excited to get on the track. He runs sprints to become faster and quicker. He likes the sport for the athletic benefits it adds to his football game.
Campbell is working this spring to perfect his form. He wants to drive his knees higher in the air and break out of the block faster.
The key to a quicker start is staying low for his first few steps. It’s harder for a taller runner to stay low.
Any speed improvements should translate over to football. He hopes it’s the same with his starts and taking on offensive lineman since each technique is about him staying lower.
“I need to learn to do it,” Campbell said, “whether it’s on the track or football field.”
Campbell’s to-do list is long. There is plenty of time to attack it after finding a program as obsessed with development as he is.