Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz had some strong words of admiration for linebacker Jack Campbell this week, comparing him to a former great.
Former linebacker Chad Greenway was a stalwart during his time with Iowa football. Head coach Kirk Ferentz didn’t mince words this week when he compared current linebacker Jack Campbell to the former All-American.
During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Ferentz opened up on what he liked about Campbell during the recruiting process and what type of impact he’s made this season.
“To answer the first part of the question, everything. Everything about [Campbell]. And I’m not saying he’s Chad Greenway, but you guys have heard me tell the story when Chad was in our locker room in 2000 (as a true freshman). It was the Northwestern game, and we won the game. It was a big win for us,” Ferentz said.
“And I just remember seeing Greenway in the back of the locker room, and seeing his face. It looked like he had played in the game; he was so wrapped up and so enthused. There’s some guys that just kind of strike you that way, and it’s like, ‘I don’t know who that guy is, but we need him on our team’ and it worked out pretty well. Jack Campbell has kind of got that same [mentality]. He just really enjoys playing and he enjoys competing.”
Greenway, who was the 17th overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2006 NFL Draft, is the only linebacker to be selected in the first-round under Ferentz. Iowa’s coach seems to think Campbell shares similar traits to the former first-rounder.
Campbell (6-5, 243), a true sophomore, missed the first three games of the season due to an illness (mononucleosis). He was slated to be the starting middle linebacker entering the season. Since returning to the lineup, he’s been an instant contributor, slowly earning more playing time week after week.
Despite splitting time with Seth Benson, Campbell has seen his tackle totals increase each game this season. He’s posted five, seven and eight tackles, respectively, in his three appearances, including a sack and a forced fumble against Penn State. He broke out against Nebraska last week after defensive coordinator let him run wild against quarterback Adrian Martinez in a spy role.
Even in the midst of all his early success, though, Campbell doesn’t seem to care that he hasn’t been named the outright starter this season. Like Greenway, he’s been a team player from the start.
“We’ve always been a super tight-knit group. We put our head down and keep trusting the coaches and each other,” Campbell said. “In the linebacker room, we do a good job of building off each other and not making excuses.”
The big man in the middle will likely continue to split time with Benson this week against Illinois. Ferentz wouldn’t budge on giving any indication how the Hawkeyes might deploy their linebacking corps. If Campbell continues to impress, it’ll be hard to keep him off the field – especially if he’s anything close to Greenway.