Jack Campbell was one of the greatest Hawkeyes of all-time. His consensus All-American plaque resides inside the walls of Kinnick Stadium, and his shadow still resides in Iowa City. Campbell went on to become a first-round pick by the Detroit Lions, but Iowa football lives on in the family — in the form of Jack’s younger brother Drew.
Drew’s playing his senior year at Cedar Falls and is committed to playing at Iowa next season. But early in the recruiting process, his father Dave pondered whether Drew would want the pressure of playing at his brother’s old stomping grounds.
“I thought he might want to go a different route and decide to be his own man,” Dave Campbell told me.
Drew Campbell watched his brother play on Saturdays, and he spent time around Jack and his teammates. He ended up forming a friendship with Joe Evans, who Drew sees more of himself in.
“Joe, he was probably overlooked in high school, too,” Drew Campbell said. “He’s not the tallest, he’s not the biggest — but he’s got the biggest heart on the team.”
Joe and Drew don’t have the same last name, but they plenty in common. They have the same birthday, they play the same position, and Joe hopes one more thing lines up for these two.
“I was saying, ‘Dude, you should ask for the No. 13 jersey when I’m out of here,'” Evans said. “We’ve always had this bond and I got to host him on his official visit.”
“Going to all those Iowa games over the years, Jack Campbell was not Drew’s favorite player — it was Joe Evans by a large margin,” Dave Campbell said.
Evans’ story is that of a fairy tale. Coming out of Ames High School at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he had not a single offer. He had to walk on at Iowa.
After red-shirting his freshman year, Evans went on to play at least seven games in each of the last five seasons. In 2021, he registered seven sacks. In 2022, he became a full-time starter. In 2023, he was named a team captain.
“It really shows you what they can do to a player and work on them and make him the football player he is,” Drew Campbell said of Joe.
“Drew just thinks the world of Joe. Joe always speaks to Drew — Drew just thinks Joe is it,” Dave added.
“I was so happy he committed,” Evans said. “I love him so much, he’s such a good dude.”
Drew’s finishing up his senior season at Cedar Falls High School, where his brother played high school. And he plans on donning the black and gold next fall — just like Jack. But Drew Campbell’s not Jack nor does he want to be.
But in part because of his brother — and in part because of Joe Evans — he has a blueprint on how to become the football player he wants to be.
“You’re not just going to get put out on the field,” Campbell said. “It’s basically a badge of honor being there because you earn the right to be there.”