|Teric Jones, Thomas Gordon, William Campbell, and Boubacar Cissoko|
Campbell played high school ball at Detroit (MI) Cass Tech, and he was a prized recruit. Rivals ranked him as a 5-star and the #5 defensive tackle, Scout ranked him as a 5-star and the #6 defensive tackle. As a senior in 2008, he had 55 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 fumble return touchdown. High school teammates Thomas Gordon (currently a starting safety), Boubacar Cissoko, and Teric Jones (the latter two of whom left the program early) joined him at Michigan as part of the 2009 class.
Despite arriving at Michigan with little attention paid to technique, Campbell played immediately as a freshman; during that 5-7 season, Campbell made 4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 2 pass breakups. He began his 2010 sophomore season at defensive tackle, but he continued to be a backup and eventually requested a move to the offensive line in an effort to play more; he never saw the field as an offensive lineman, but he played as a goal-line fullback and made 1 tackle and 1 pass breakup throughout the year, along with playing on special teams protection units. When Brady Hoke was hired prior to the 2011 season, Coach Hoke asked Campbell to move back to defensive tackle; while he didn't start any games, he was an oft-used backup at both nose tackle and 3-tech DT, making 14 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup, and 1 fumble recovery. Campbell finally became a starter as a senior in 2012, earning the nod at 3-tech DT and making 44 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack; he was rewarded with All-Big Ten Honorable Mention at the conclusion of his career.
63 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 4 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery
All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2012
Many people will consider Campbell a bust because of his 5-star recruiting profile; he was a huge guy with good athleticism, and everyone thought he would be a stud. Unfortunately, it was apparent during high school - and mentioned by numerous scouts, recruiting gurus, etc. - that he struggled to stay low consistently. That was troublesome for him throughout his career. He probably should have redshirted in 2009, but he was put on the field before he was ready. Early returns were not good, and he got frustrated enough to request a change to the offensive line, which really didn't fit his skill set due to Rich Rodriguez's zone blocking scheme. When Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison were hired after Rodriguez was let go, they moved him back to defense and taught him some of the technique that he had been lacking. He made some "wow" plays at times by crushing opposing centers and guards into their own backfields, but he still wasn't consistent enough to be greatly productive. But he did eat up blockers and no longer got blown off the ball very often - like he did in his first two years - which helped other players make more plays. It makes me wonder what Michigan's defense would look like in 2013 if Campbell had a year of eligibility and good coaching remaining, but now the Wolverines will have to find a somewhat inexperienced replacement at his former position.
I WILL REMEMBER HIM FOR . . .
. . . dancing during his televised commitment during the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Campbell measured in at 6'5", 311 lbs. at Michigan's pro day after being passed over for an invitation to the NFL Combine. He also ran a 5.15 forty, benched 225 lbs. a total of 35 times (which would have made him the #7 strongest player at the Combine), and ran a 4.71 second shuttle time. His lack of production on the college level is a concern, and he's also a guy with a reputation for an inconsistent work ethic; while he seems to have corrected his early problems with weight and hard work, he still loses focus on staying low and playing hard on every play. Based on strength and athletic potential, I think Campbell might get drafted toward the tail end of the 2013 NFL Draft; he looks like a guy who might start off as a 3-tech defensive tackle in a 4-3 but might grow into a nose tackle as he packs on some of that weight once again. I don't think he'll be a star at the next level, but he could carve out a niche as a backup lineman or a mediocre NFL starter for several years.