When it comes to the conversation for best linebacker in America, it feels like Iowa’s got a horse in the race every single year.

Jack Campbell won the Butkus Award in 2022, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker. Before him, Josey Jewell found himself on the Consensus All-American wall.

This season, Jay Higgins has taken the baton and ran with it. He’s got the most tackles (113) among all players in the Big Ten — the most among all Power 5 schools.

With three games left to play, Higgins has just 15 fewer tackles than Campbell did in 13 games in 2022. After being named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award earlier this week, Higgins has solidified his senior season as one of the best by any Iowa linebacker.

“I feel like I play the game the right way,” Higgins said. “I have an excellent D-line in front of me and obviously the back seven is helping me as well just how we stop the run game.”

“What’s different about me is I’m being coached by Coach Wallace. I’m just trying to help my team as much as I can. Just give him effort. Making sure my effort was never questionable.”

“All the credit goes to Jay, in my opinion, just like Jack,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Jay is a really good story I think in that I don’t think he had a Big Ten offer. But he’s just one of those guys when you meet him he makes you feel good.”

“It’s great because I know the effort and then the time that he’s spent and invested into being a leader,” Kyler Fisher said. “It’s great to see him actually have that success and make those plays.”

Higgins has led an Iowa defense that has vaulted all the way up to fourth in the country in points per game allowed.

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Linebacker Jay Higgins #34 of the Iowa Hawkeyes makes a tackle during the first half on wide receiver Montorie Foster Jr. #83 of the Michigan State Spartans at Kinnick Stadium on September 30, 2023 in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)