IOWA CITY, Iowa – Linebacker Jack Campbell became the 13th unanimous all-American in Iowa football history on Wednesday.
Nine of those 13 honorees have played for Coach Kirk Ferentz. Two more, quarterback Chuck Long and linebacker Larry Station, played for the Hawkeyes when Ferentz was Hayden Fry’s offensive line coach.
That leaves quarterback Randy Duncan, who played for Coach Forest Evashevski and was a unanimous all-American in 1958. He led the Hawkeyes to the Rose Bowl and, like Long, was a Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Those 10 Ferentz consensus all-Americans – tight end Dallas Clark (2002), offensive tackles Robert Gallery (2003) and Brandon Scherff (2014), running back Shonn Greene (2008), cornerbacks Desmond King (2015) and Josh Jackson (2017), defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon (2020), center Tyler Linderbaum (2021) and linebackers Josey Jewell (2017) and Campbell, have cemented Iowa’s reputation as a developmental program.
Jewell, Jackson, Gallery, and Greene were all two-star recruits. Everyone else was a three-star prospect.
Jewell had one offer, from Northern Iowa, until Iowa came calling just two days before signing day. Jackson, Gallery, and King also had no other Power Five offers. Nixon originally committed to Northern Illinois. King accepted an offer from Central Michigan, changed his mind, pledged his allegiance to Ball State, and then jumped on Iowa’s offer when it became available.
This is the third straight season that a Hawkeye player has reached unanimous all-American status. And Nixon, Linderbaum, and Campbell did it in different positions.
Add placekicker Keith Duncan and Iowa is the only program in the nation with a consensus all-American in each of the last four seasons.
To be considered a consensus all-American, a player has to make at least three of the five all-American teams selected by the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News, and Walter Camp Foundation.
Joining Duncan as other consensus all-Americans under Ferentz are offensive guard Eric Steinbach (2002), placekicker Nate Kaeding (2003), and defensive end Adrian Clayborn (2010).
Clark was the first unanimous all-American under Ferentz. He joined the program as a walk-on linebacker. Gallery was converted from a 225-pound tight end to an offensive tackle. Linderbaum was moved from defensive tackle to center. Jackson started in the secondary, was switched to wide receiver, and then moved back to defense as a cornerback.
Greene, from Sicklerville, N.J., had offers from Rutgers, Wisconsin, Clemson, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Syracuse before signing with the Hawkeyes. He spent a season at Milford Academy before enrolling at Iowa, then attended Kirkwood Community College in 2007 to get his academic life back in order.
He burst onto the scene in 2008, rushing for 1,580 yards and 20 touchdowns and winning the Doak Walker Award that goes to the nation’s top running back.
Nixon’s career wasn’t a straight line from Kenosha, Wis., to Iowa City either. After choosing Iowa over Purdue, New Mexico, Western Michigan, Buffalo, and North Dakota State, he ended up at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs for academic reasons. He was committed, but not bound, to the Hawkeyes when Alabama offered him a scholarship while he was at Iowa Western in 2017. Nixon signed with the Hawkeyes, redshirted in 2018, and then considered transferring in 2019. But he stuck it out and became one of the best players in the nation in 2020.
Jewell’s story is equally interesting. Former Iowa assistant Reese Morgan had to convince Ferentz to take the Decorah standout, who was the most valuable player in the Class 3A state title game and led the champion Vikings that season in rushing, receiving, tackles, interceptions, and punt returns.
Jewell is one of six former Iowa high school standouts to reach unanimous all-American status under Ferentz. Campbell, who is from Cedar Falls, is the only one of the six to live in a town with a population of more than 9,000 people.