Hello (Again): Will Campbell Comment Count

Brian January 5th, 2009 at 11:38 AM

MI DT Will Campbell recommitted on Saturday. The dossier:



Scout Rivals ESPN
5*, #4 DT 5*, #4 DT, #25 overall 79, #22 OT

campbell-thor Will Campbell first became known to Michigan fans when he committed at Michigan's summer camp a year and a half ago, when he was a rising junior. An early commit like that presaged big things—offers, rankings—and when Scout and Rivals started publishing lists of these things Campbell was indeed awarded the coveted fifth star and took his spot as the top recruit in Michigan's class. Then he decommitted, took a bunch of visits, scared the crap out of everyone, and eventually rejoined the fold. Relief goes here.

Campbell's guru ratings are reminiscent of those given to a Cass Tech defensive tackle from a couple years ago who considered Michigan and LSU but came up with the wrong answer: Joseph Barksdale. Michigan told Barksdale he'd be best as an offensive lineman, which he didn't want to hear, causing a rift. Meanwhile, both Scout and Rivals ranked him as a five star DT; ESPN said "no!" and declared him a good, not great, offensive tackle prospect.

Who was right? Eh, both, sort of. Barksdale came to LSU a defensive tackle and instantly ended up on the other side of the ball—ESPN was right—but then established himself an immediate, excellent starter as a redshirt freshman—ESPN was wrong. That latter accuracy is likely to repeat; on one side you've got two sets of recruiting analysts and virtually every program in the country. On the other you've got a few guys with a track record of goofily leaving off one or two guys every year.

A position switch a la Barksdale is not likely for Campbell, even if he played both ways at the Army All-American game, for one glaring reason: Michigan's depth chart. Michigan returns every offensive lineman on the roster and adds two highly-rated tackle prospects this year. On the other side of the ball, though, Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson exit and the candidates to start next to Mike Martin are a Canadian (Renaldo Sagesse) who saw little time a year ago and a converted fullback (Vince Helmuth) who saw none. Yikes. At a position that usually sees at least three players contributing, that's a scary depth chart.

Campbell's been the subject of dozens of articles since his decommitment, but virtually all of them are like "eeee where's he going." Not many were useful after that became clear, but a few remain relevant. The first came around this time a year ago, when Campbell smoked a wide array of the country's top talent at the Army combine:

Campbell, who is ranked as the nation's No. 55 player for 2009, wanted to show he deserves a much loftier ranking than what he's at currently. He set out to destroy every offensive linemen that was in his path. He did that and more. Using an array of spin moves, bull rushes and pure agility, Campbell couldn't be blocked.

Player after player wanted to test their ability against him, but it didn't matter.

"I want to be an All-American," Campbell said. "I want to be a five-star. That's basically why I came down to San Antonio. I wanted to show that I'm the best defensive tackle in the nation."

He might have just done that.

"He's got great size and great power," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every said. "I'd like to see him trim up in the belly area a little bit, but he's got it everywhere else. I can't wait to see what he looks like on game tape. He's got the potential to be a five-star guy."

This time around, Campbell was the only player at the Army game to play both ways. His coach (Terry Smith of Gateway High in Pennsylvania, who you may remember from the Justin King recruitment) was very positive about him:

"Campbell is a true Warren Sapp kind of athlete," Smith said. "I saw him out there catching punts, catching passes and then he's making all those tackles on the defensive line. He's fast, he's strong, athletic and he's big."

He's the East team's best defensive lineman according to most. (He was also ranked #12 in the state by SpartanMag.com. ROR.)

More from Smith:

Massive Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech lineman William Campbell has been working with both the offensive and defensive lines during practice, and Smith said the 6-5, 317-pounder will probably go both ways.

"He's enormous, he's explosive and he's really athletic for a big guy," Smith said. "He's a fast learner. He's a fun-spirited kid who loves the game and that's why we're able to move him on both sides of the ball because he can pick it up. He just enjoys playing the game."

In the game, Campbell consistently drove back double teams and flowed down the line to make a couple tackles, but appeared to take a few plays off. He might have been spying on the QB, or just tired since he was also playing offensive line as well.

Cass Tech coach (and Michigan alum) Thomas Wilcher on his charge:

"I think he's had perseverance," noted Wilcher. "He went through his career here and kept up great academics. He kept up all his schoolwork. He worked out hard every year and he did whatever it took to become the best athlete. No matter what you asked, no matter what you told him, he always achieved that level."


Everyone except USC, and USC seemed leery not because they were skeptical of his talent but because they didn't think he would seriously consider leaving. The finalists other than Michigan were Miami, LSU, Alabama and Florida.


I couldn't dig up any, unfortunately.


Nor could I find a 40 time


Eeeeee he commits eeee:

And here's an interview from Scout:


Every signing day or thereabouts I run down the recruiting class in detail and provide a "YMRFSPA"—you may remember me from such players as—comparison. Sometimes these are a little flimsy. Jason Avant gets mentioned entirely too much. But here we have a rock-solid comparison: Gabe Watson. Watson was also a simply ginormous five-star defensive tackle recruit some thought would be better on offense. Watson also had rumored motivational issues, as is usual when you're talking about men with their own gravitational pull.

Watson was a slight disappointment during his Michigan career, but only a slight one. Instead of an All-American performer, he was an all-conference one—twice. He's currently contributing to an NFL playoff team.

Campbell's something of a goof but he's less of a softy than the legendarily nice Watson, and Watson's motivational issues were so extreme that he was benched in favor of Pat Massey for the first couple games of his senior year. He was close to the bad end of the effort continuum; Campbell is likely to be less frustrating.

Campbell's got some technique and Barwis issues to deal with, but is coming in early, which should mitigate his freshman unpreparedness considerably; with the depth chart looking like it does Campbell is at least 50-50 to start immediately and is a lock for considerable playing time as a freshman.


Well, if the other two DT recruits stick they're done at a postion of great need, and with great success. Unfortunately, it sounds like it's going to be a battle for both guys until signing day. OK DT Pearlie Graves has talked about a visit to Oklahoma for a while now. Recent scuttlebutt has been most positive, though. The commitment of Jamarkus "Texas Coke Orgy" McFarland helps, and may end Oklahoma's recruitment of Graves. It seems likely he sticks.

LA DT DeQuinta Jones, on the other hand, seems considerably more open. Keep in mind he's never actually been to Michigan's campus, committing unexpectedly after he figured out LSU probably wasn't going offer. That was seemingly because Jay Hopson is one suave dude. Hopson remains a suave dude, but Jones plans visits to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State prior to his Michigan visit.

Though the board doesn't reflect this, my current view of the situation: Graves and Campbell are commits; Jones is open but is probably going to Michigan. With no other recruits on the radar, his decision will determine whether M ends up with two or three DTs in the class.


West Texas Blue

January 5th, 2009 at 12:35 PM ^

We need to hold onto all 3 DT. As Brian noted, our DL depth is razor thin and we need all the solid prospects we can get ahold of. Early PT should be promised to all three kids because of our lack of depth; hopefully this will be a good incentive for Graves and Jones to maintain their commitment.


January 5th, 2009 at 1:28 PM ^

I never realized that spartanmag.com had the Otter ranked as #12 in the state. I know that it is a homer magazine, but jebus, do they even watch players not recruited by MSU? I did a quick search of the site to see who they ranked ahead of Campbell, and there are literally dozens of posts saying how the Wet O (and yeah, that's pretty dirty) wouldn't fit in at MSU because he is "self-absorbed", isn't a top-10 kid in the state, etc. While every fan is allowed to hold his own subjective opinion about character, it is insane to suggest that a 5-star recruit doesn't break the top-10 in-state talent while listing a bunch of low 4s and high 3s ahead of him. Maybe I'm just used to the (relatively) objective and informed posts here on MGoBlog, but that blew me away.

Also, remember, this is a school who counts Plaxico Burress, Tony Mandarich, Charles Rodgers, and Jeff Smoker as alumni. So calling out a kid's "character" rings pretty hollow to me.


January 5th, 2009 at 2:00 PM ^

I think it is a slippery slope to start using character when referring to recruits, players, or alumni. But for MSU to use it is just silly.

In addition to the names mentioned by bronxblue, don't forget that Mark Ingram was just arrested after a nationwide man-hunt and Andre Rison's various issues. I know there are many others.

But this gives me the opportunity to make an observation - is MSU the home for the most troubled WR alumni in the entire country? If you're a high school WR who is talented but has been arrested multiple times, don't you just sent your video to MSU figuring that they're going to sign you?


January 5th, 2009 at 2:01 PM ^

Maybe I've missed something, but I thought that juniors Adam Patterson 99 (4 star) and behemoth Greg Banks 92 (3 star) might hit the UM lineup in 2009 alongside Sr. DE Brandon Graham and So. DT Mike Martin?

Is Adam Patterson one of the guys that is leaving the team?

Having William Campbell, Lalota, Roh, Graves and freaking D. Jones in the class - well, you could do a hell of a lot worse after a 3-9-0 season.

I remain rather surprised that more 18 years olds don't look at Michigan right now and deduce: great education and early playing time. But we still see a lot of hesitancy. This can only be explained by a lot of negative recruiting vs. UM and specifically Rich Rodriguez, or a general belief that RR just won't be around very long at UM. I don't know how pervasive the latter belief really is among undecided recruits.

chitownblue (not verified)

January 5th, 2009 at 5:55 PM ^

Greg Banks has gotten some PT, so I'd imagine he'll be in the rotation. But I think that Ryan Van Bergen will be your other starter. Patterson seems destined to be a bust right now.