Iowa star linebacker Jack Campbell received some awful news after the final game of his college football career.
The unanimous All-American’s grandfather, William Smith Jr., died late Friday night after a vehicle-pedestrian accident involving one vehicle, Iowa announced after its win on Saturday. Smith had been in Nashville to watch his grandson in the Music City Bowl.
Per the Hawkeyes, Campbell’s parents decided to wait to tell him the news until after the game was over so he could enjoy playing with his teammates “one last time,” indicating he will indeed enter the NFL draft this spring. Campbell had an extra year of eligibility remaining after his senior season.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz expressed support for his player, via Iowa’s statement:
“Our hearts are with Jack and his entire family as they grieve the tragic death of their grandfather and father, William Smith, Jr.,” said Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz. “We know Mr. Smith was a strong influence on his grandson and a faithful Hawkeye football supporter. All of us — players, coaches and staff members — will keep the Campbell family in our thoughts and prayers during this profoundly difficult time.”
Campbell helped lead a dominant effort by the Iowa defense, which held Kentucky to 185 total yards and 2.7 yards per play while scoring two touchdowns in a 21-0 win. Campbell posted a team-high 10 total tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.
That was more of the same in a season that saw Campbell win the Butkus Award for the country’s top linebacker, the Big Ten’s Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year Award and the William V. Campbell Trophy for the best combination of on-field and off-field performance.