Some things were just meant to be.
When Jack Campbell arrived in Iowa City as a freshman in 2019, his teammate and co-linebacker Seth Benson became a fast friend. Benson hardly played during his freshman season in 2018 before redshirting, and the two made their first impact as Hawkeyes in reserve roles in 2019.
“He’s just been a really great friend and we’ve got a bond,” the senior Campbell said.
Benson set records at Washington High School in South Dakota, but the undersized linebacker was only a two-star recruit and only received offers from two schools. On the other hand, the athletic, rangy, 6-foot-5 Campbell turned plenty of heads in the midwest as a four-star recruit and had offers on the table from four Big Ten schools. While they had different paths to Iowa, Benson and Campbell have plenty of things in common.
“Definitely kind of homebodies, close circles, which is kind of nice because he’s the same way,” Benson said.
Off the field there was another sport that Campbell and Benson had interest in: Hunting. Growing up in Sioux Falls, Benson spent time hunting smaller birds — like pheasants and quail. Campbell, on the other hand, was born and raised in Cedar Falls. The All-American’s specialty are turkey and deer. Here’s one of Jack’s catches he posted back in 2020.
During the season, the two Hawkeyes try to find days to hunt in the area when class and football don’t conflict. But both did some hunting during the offseason together, and even during the bye week in 2021. Campbell said he got Benson’s number that day.
“I got a deer, he didn’t.”
Benson didn’t take it too hard, but wanted to make sure Campbell knew that he didn’t have his number when it came to bird catching.
“He’s probably a better deer and turkey hunter,” Benson confessed. “I told him there’s no way he’s a better upland bird or waterfowl hunter than me.”
The two have passed wisdom to one another, sharing tricks of the trade. It’s one part of their relationship that Campbell really appreciates.
“He’s more like the pheasant guy, ’cause I haven’t had as much experience as him, and I feel like turkey hunting questions — he’d come to me. Kind of just balancing ideas off each other in that aspect.”
In 2022, Benson and Campbell are playing their final seasons in black and gold. Campbell became an All-American in 2021 when he led the nation in tackles (143). He earned the honor of being a permanent team captain and he’s very likely going to begin his career in the NFL next season.
Meanwhile, Benson has been nothing short of a key cog on the Hawkeye front 7. He manned the weakside position all 14 games last season and collected 105 tackles, along with intercepting the only pass of his collegiate career. Benson was named an all Big-Ten honorable mention last season, and also made the dean’s list for the sixth consecutive semester. He’s carved himself out one heck of a college athletic career.
Benson said this season he’s noticed a difference in the way both players approach their roles on the team.
“As we’ve gotten older we’ve grown into vocal leaders.”
And so far, two of the loudest voices on the Hawkeye defense have led Iowa to the fourth best defense in the country. The stellar unit has allowed just 13 points in 3 games, including a signature performance against South Dakota State from Jack Campbell. The inside linebacker tallied 12 tackles, 1.5 for loss, and a safety in the second half that put the Hawkeyes over the top. But Campbell is happy to go out with one of his closest friends.
“Heading into both of our last years, it’s just unique to see how that kind of developed like our relationship.” Campbell said. “It’s just been an awesome experience and he’s just one heck of a friend.”