|I like this high school picture of William Campbell too much not to post it.|
Weight: 308 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position: Defensive tackle
Jersey number: #73
Last year: I ranked Campbell #15 and said he would start at 3-tech DT with 40 tackles and 3 sacks. He had 14 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup, and 1 fumble recovery.
Okay, I was a little bit off with my prediction that Campbell would start, that he would be a 3-tech, and that he would make 40 tackles. In fact, he didn't start, played mostly 1-tech, and made just 14 tackles. My hopes were dashed. He was the primary backup to the now departed Mike Martin, and those aren't bad statistics for a backup nose tackle; when Martin was a backup, he made 20 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. But Martin was a freshman, and Campbell was a junior. I expected more. I still don't really agree with the deployment of Campbell, who would be tough to block for just about any offensive guard one-on-one. As a nose tackle who struggles to stay low, he's typically playing against centers (who are shorter and almost always use good leverage) and guards (who are sometimes shorter and often use good leverage). There were plays last season when Campbell destroyed single blocks, and there were plays where he got washed out of the action by double-teams. I guess the coaches thought they would rather start Will Heininger than have Quinton Washington or Richard Ash be rotation players, so that's what happened.
Now three-fourths of last year's starting defensive line has graduated (Martin, Heininger, and Ryan Van Bergen), and Campbell has to start at nose tackle. There's really no other option. He has reportedly taken to his newfound leadership role and slimmed down to 308 lbs. after playing earlier in his career at 340 or 350. It's now or never for the former 5-star recruit. The conditioning seems to be in place, but it remains to be seen whether he has the desire and focus to stay low every single play. One of Martin's best traits was his ability to go hard on almost every play, and he was consistently a disruptive force in the middle of the line because of it. Ondre Pipkins was expected to be one of Campbell's backups - if not the primary one - but a recent injury might temporarily keep Pipkins from playing. That leaves Richard Ash, Quinton Washington, and Kenny Wilkins to vie for playing time on the nose, with Ash the likely winner of that battling trio. Campbell should see a sizable jump in his production, but I think the defense overall is going to dip a little bit because of the loss of Martin and, to a lesser extent, Van Bergen.
Prediction: Starting nose tackle; 35 tackles, 3.5 sacks
Poll results: Campbell won 57% of the vote for the #7 spot.