Iowa Hawkeyes’ defensive backbone is trio of returning linebackers

·3 min read

The always stout defense of the Iowa Hawkeyes is returning a trio that combined for 301 tackles last season, or roughly one-third of the entire tackles totaled. They are one of seven teams in the country that had multiple players with 100-plus tackles. That sort of output returning is not common and should provide an experienced backbone to lead a defense that constantly performs under defensive coordinator Phil Parker.

That trio consists of the three returning starting linebackers, last year’s leading tackler Jack Campbell, second-leading tackler Seth Benson and fourth leading tackler Jestin Jacobs. Trotting out those three each week gives Iowa an extremely long and athletic core on defense that can cover grass fast. Not only do they show out every fall weekend, they’re even better humans than football players.

Iowa’s linebacking core is the heart and soul and good enough for multiple media outlets to rank them in the top 25 following the conclusion of spring ball. Between USA TODAY Sports and 247Sports, the Hawkeyes find themselves at No. 11 and No. 23 in the country.

Jack Campbell

Led by a future NFL draft pick, Campbell is bringing his length and rangy sideline-to-sideline play back to Iowa City to command the defense. His 143 tackles last year speak for themselves. Campbell possesses the ability to not only constantly find the ball, but also to make the play when he finds himself with the opportunity.

Seth Benson

Seth Benson seems to be a bit of the unsung hero and the lesser talked about in the Hawkeyes’ linebacker bunch. His 105 tackles in 2021 were good enough for 13th-best in the nation and proof he deserves more recognition.

The Sioux Falls, S.D., product was another one of the anchors on a defense that gave up only 19.2 points per game. Benson not only plugs the gap in the run game, but has proven himself more than capable of following Big Ten running backs around in the passing game.

Jestin Jacobs

Jestin Jacobs is entering his third season donning the black and gold for Iowa. He has garnered intrigue for his athleticism and flashes of closing speed in the flat against wide receivers and running backs. While a little less seasoned than Campbell and Benson, his ceiling may be the highest of all three. That is more than enough to get Iowa fans and NFL scouts interested in what he can continue to do.

One of ESPN‘s post-spring takeaways on the Iowa Hawkeyes hypothesizes another season filled with very stout defense each week against whoever lines up against them. These three make the Iowa Hawkeyes’ defense go and are often involved in tackles for losses, turnovers, and big defensive stands. Expect more of the same this fall.

Having a backbone with the likes of Campbell, Benson, and Jacobs sets up a defense that can be aggressive, risk-taking, and fearless making plays because they know they have a three-headed monster of linebackers that will help clean up the mess.

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