116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Iowa’s linebacker situation can essentially be summed up in three words.
Everyone is back.
Here’s a closer look at the experience-rich linebackers room as part of The Gazette’s winter football position breakdown series:
Iowa does not have any departures at linebacker although it’s still possible for someone to leave via the transfer portal after spring practices.
Any conversation about the 2022 linebacker position has to start with Jack Campbell.
The middle linebacker played in 1,121 snaps, per Pro Football Focus. He rarely left the field on defense and also contributed significantly to Iowa’s special teams units.
Campbell had the most tackles for an Iowa player in a single season in more than a decade.
He’ll have the benefit of Seth Benson next to him again at the weakside linebacker spot.
Benson, who also played more than 1,000 snaps in 2021, led the team with eight quarterback hurries and was the only other player to have 100-plus tackles.
Jestin Jacobs is coming off a productive year in the Leo position. The former four-star recruit finished fourth on the team in tackles despite playing at a position that sees fewer snaps against spread offenses.
Kyler Fisher caught many fans’ attention in the Nebraska game, when he caught a punt blocked by Henry Marchese in the fourth quarter and returned it for a touchdown. The former defensive back was on the second team behind Benson on the depth chart, but Iowa rarely used him on defense in 2021.
Jay Higgins, like Fisher, had a spot on the defense’s two-deeps in 2021. Backing up Campbell didn’t lead to much in-game action. He played 39 defensive snaps in 2021, per PFF’s snap counts, compared to his 200 snaps on special teams.
Other names to keep an eye on include Justice Sullivan, Mike Timm, Logan Klemp and Jaden Harrell.
Sullivan was a four-star recruit coming into the program in 2021 although he did not see playing time in his freshman season.
Timm was one of three walk-ons to earn a scholarship after the 2021 season.
Who’s joining the mix
Iowa will have two incoming scholarship players at linebacker — Jayden Montgomery and Landyn Van Kekerix. Montgomery’s father is a former Hawkeye and current defensive line coach for the Green Bay Packers.
Montgomery and Van Kekerix are rated as a two-star recruits in 247Sports’ rankings and three-star recruits in Rivals’ rankings.
Way-too-early two-deep projections
This is the only position where the two-deep projection for 2022 mirrors exactly the 2021 depth chart.
- Jack Campbell
- Jay Higgins
- Seth Benson
- Kyler Fisher
- Jestin Jacobs
Iowa’s production at linebacker was outstanding in 2021. With literally everyone set to come back in 2022, it could be one of the best linebacker corps in the country.
The Hawkeyes may need to be creative again to find ways to keep Jacobs on the field against offenses where Iowa needs to use a fifth “Cash” defensive back instead of Jacobs’ Leo position.
As long as Iowa’s starters remain healthy, the Hawkeyes are in excellent shape at linebacker. The biggest danger comes with injuries.
While Iowa’s entire group is expected to return, only three of them — Campbell, Benson and Jacobs — played 40-plus defensive snaps in 2021.
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