IOWA CITY — Much like he did during an All-Big Ten season last fall, Jack Campbell left no doubt.
"I’m back and I’m feeling fantastic," the Iowa linebacker said Thursday.
Campbell did not participate in the Hawkeyes spring practices, using the time to fully recover from the wear of a season in which the Cedar Falls native finished with 143 tackles.
That total was the most by a Hawkeye since Pat Angerer finished with 145 in 2009 and it included five double-digit tackle performances including 14 in the Citrus Bowl.
Campbell’s absence on the field during Iowa’s 15 spring practices provided younger players with a chance to gain additional experience and it provided Campbell with a chance to grow his game in other ways.
He spent a lot of time in the film room, dissecting his own game and discovering ways he can improve as he prepares for his senior season.
Campbell indicated he found plenty to work on even after a productive season.
"I’m never really satisfied with myself," Campbell said. "On every single play, there are always ways to get better and that’s what I’m working on. In every facet of the game, that work continues and I’m trying to become the best player I can be."
Campbell said he also spent a lot of time in the spring talking with any younger linebackers who were willing to listen.
"Everybody was working their butts off and that was great to see," Campbell said. "I did what I was able to do. There was a lot of time in the film room and I spent lot of time talking with the other linebackers about football."
Campbell said the conversations dove deeply into the game and the difference-making nuances that allowed Campbell to thrive last season.
"We just talked football, talked about the game. It was good," Campbell said. "I did all the things I could do to help the team even if I wasn’t out there."
The work, Campbell said, continues now.
Early in the summer phase of their workouts, Iowa players are spending a lot of time on strength and conditioning work to prepare their bodies for a season that begins Sept. 3 with a home game against South Dakota State.
"It will be here before we know it," Campbell said.
Juniors Jay Higgins, Kyler Fisher and Jestin Jacobs and senior Logan Klemp entered the spring positioned behind the most experienced linebackers on the Hawkeye roster, Campbell and senior Seth Benson.
Two freshmen, Jayden Montgomery and Landyn Van Kekerix, joined a sizable group of additional underclassmen in the Iowa linebacker room this summer.
Campbell said he is trying to help them all get acclimated to the program and help them make the most of their summer as well.
He recalled Kristian Welch, now preparing for his third season with the Baltimore Ravens, doing the same for Campbell when he was cutting his teeth at the collegiate level.
He recalled how Welch told him that time at the college level will fly by from one season to the next, something Campbell has found to be true.
And now, Campbell shares that sentiment with the younger players on the roster, encouraging them to make the most of each day as they prepare.
So far, he likes the results he sees.
"There are a lot of guys here who are going to contribute in a lot of ways," Campbell said. "Look at last year, all the guys who came in and contributed on special teams. It should be a good year. We just need to continue to work."
Campbell said that hasn’t been an issue with Iowa’s newcomers.
"I see lot of guys out there working, guys who are highly motivated and doing the work that it takes," Campbell said. "I’m excited about that. If you want to be successful you have to put in the work and that is what this time of year is all about."
Campbell welcomes the chance to be back on the field, doing just that.
"This is a good time of year, a time when you build relationships within the team and develop the culture," he said. "The teams that are able to develop the best culture, they’re the teams that are together and have success in the fall."
Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum is sacked by Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell earlier this season, among a collection of 143 tackles Campbell accumulated in 2021. He's the first Iowa player to record 100 stops in a season since Josey Jewell in 2017.