Will Campbell: Why the Bust Label is Wrong (So Far)

Submitted by West Texas Blue on August 30th, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Upon reading Brian's comments on the depth chart that was released today, I was disappointed to read his thoughts.  Reading the user comments on the post, I become further disappointed with many of my fellow Wolverine brethern.  With defensive tackles, alot of them were bigger and stronger than their level of competition in high school, so they simply dominated by pure athleticism, not by great technique.  My theory is that many of these DT need to have their technique refined so that they can hang with D-1 players, and plus alot of them need conditioning.  So I decided to look at the 2009 recruiting class for DT, using Rivals ratings and looking at the top 25 DTs.








Sheldon Richardson



Failed to Qualify; Attending College of the Sequoias


Jaccobi McDaniel



Played 13 games, 4 TFL, 1 Sack, 1 FF


Gary Brown



Kicked off team


Chris Davenport





Will Campbell



Played 9 games, 1 TFL


Jamarkus McFarland



Played 7 games, 2.5 TFL, 2.5 Sacks


Calvin Howell





Corey Adams



Played 8 games, 0 TFL, 0 Sacks


Abry Jones



Played 12 games,  2 TFL, 1 Sack


Dillon Quinn

Boston College




Deandre Coleman





Jared McAdoo

North Carolina




Darrington Sentimore





Josh Downs



Played 11 games, 3.5 TFL, 0 Sacks


Josh Boyd

Miss State


Played 12 games, 0 TFL, 0 Sacks


Tyler Stockton





Jordan Kohout





Luther Robinson





Corey Gaines

Ole Miss




John Drew



Kicked off team


Isaac Holmes





Latu Heimuli





Edward Nuckols



Failed to Qualify; attending Seton Hill College


Jamontay Pilson



Failed to Qualify


DeQuinta Jones



Played 12 games, 3.5 TFL, 2.5 Sacks, 2 FF


Looking at the breakdown, 12 of the top 25 DTs redshirted (48%).  3 failed to qualify (12%).  2 were kicked off the team (8%).  So during their freshman year, only 8 defensive tackles made any contribution to the team (32%).  Glossing over the stats, the only 3 guys who made a noticeable impact were Jamarkus McFarland (played since Sooners lost Gerald McCoy to draft), Jaccobi McDaniel (FSU has had severe attrition on D-Line and poor depth and thus McDaniel was forced to play), and Dequinta Jones (a Michigan decommit who we lost on Signing Day).  No one DT was a dominant player as a true freshman that you would say "Damn, this guy is a NFL top 5 pick"

Looking at the chart for past performances for true freshmen DTs and the fact that we all knew that Will Campbell's biggest knock was his technique, he should have been redshirted last year.  But because of defensive attrition and poor D-Line depth, he was forced to play.  What I plan to do is revist this chart at the end of the year and see what all has changed for the remaining 20 DTs who are eligible.  Then I believe we'll have a better picture on whether Will Campbell is going down the All-American or 5 Star Bust path.



August 30th, 2010 at 2:19 PM ^

Personally, I don't really give a rat's ass that Will Campbell hasn't contributed much yet.  If the defensive depth weren't so terrible, he wouldn't have played last year.  And we've got a potential All Big Ten or All American nose guard ahead of him, so who cares?


August 30th, 2010 at 2:52 PM ^

Campbell's technique is atrocious.  His first move out of his three-point is to stand straight up and invite the offensive lineman to gain low position.  Usually, his next move is then to attempt a swim move (as an interior lineman, standing straight up, allowing the offensive lineman to get under his pads and drive him wheresoever the olineman pleases).  This is why he often gets his ass kicked despite being huge and athletic for his size. 

To make a long story short, he has no understanding of leverage and looks like he just got out of high school.  He has been in the program for over a year and should at least be improving on these fronts if he is really going to contribute at DT.  I don't know if its coaching, lack of desire or a combination of the two, but him not keeping his ass down out of his three-point is something you can correct quickly (e.g. weeks/months, not year) if the kid is properly motivated.    I think Gerry DiNardo might be on to something when he says he thinks Campbell might be better suited as an OT.


August 31st, 2010 at 10:12 AM ^

I was referring to the tape from the Big Ten spring preview, but you are correct in asserting that was somewhat limited.  Over a year in the program should have resulted in him at least getting his ass down out of his three-point.  This is, again, something that can be coached in weeks/months not over a year.  I won't speculate as to why he's not doing it yet (e.g. the coaching or effort question), but it is very worrisome that he hasn't corrected a basic aspect of his technique. 


August 30th, 2010 at 2:23 PM ^

Look, I am disappointed that Campbell hasn't excelled.  But that doesn't yet mean he is a bust.  It was unfortunate he had to play last year.  He still has time to 'get it'.  Let us hope he does. 


August 30th, 2010 at 2:35 PM ^

The panic is spreading like wildfire! Campbell got singled out for showing up out of shape, now he's down on the depth chart. Shouldn't be this big of a surprise. Gabe Watson and Alan Branch wore out the path between the doghouse and the field, and Campbell has similar physical gifts. He'll be fine if he can handle the tough coaching.


August 30th, 2010 at 2:45 PM ^

I thought this was going to be a "bust/not a bust" REALLY type post, but it was very informative. 

If he's truly 3rd string this year, maybe we stay healthy enough he redshirts this year.


August 30th, 2010 at 2:46 PM ^

+1 for College of the Sequoias

And for today's trivia, "Sequoia" is one of but a few english words using all of the vowels.  And almost definitely the only tree name to do so, but I am too lazy to look that up.


August 30th, 2010 at 3:12 PM ^

Campbell still has time.  Hopefully he can spend this season improving his technique and getting a bit more game experience.  That way next year, when we really need him, hopefully he'll be ready to start giving hell to opposing OLs.

Enjoy Life

August 30th, 2010 at 3:56 PM ^

Based on the two deep, it does not look like Campbell will get much playing time this year to answer very many questions. Unless he gets switched to a different position (unlikely?).


August 30th, 2010 at 5:13 PM ^

You mean based on a depth chart that, at this time last year, said Brandon Herron was starting at LB, had Troly Woolfolk as a safety, and didn't contain Jordan Kovacs (our 2nd leading tackler) or Roy Roundtree (our most effective WR). This document, etched in granite, shall determine all playing time decisions in the next 13 games.


August 31st, 2010 at 9:34 AM ^

They don't need him to start next year. Martin is a junior, so no doubt the coaches would love to redshirt Will if they can -- otherwise, he's looking at not starting until he's a senior. Moving Adam Patterson over from DE this year would seem to indicate they are going to try to redshirt him, but it really depends on how well Patterson plays behind Martin.

His best-case scenario is redshirting this year, playing behind Martin next year, and then spending the next two years on the Lombardi Award short list. 


August 30th, 2010 at 4:07 PM ^

Instead of negging him, post your comments about WC's technique from your observations. There's room for debate on MGoBlog, or should be. Maybe it's not as consistently bad as he's observed...


August 30th, 2010 at 4:57 PM ^

While I don't get some of the "BRIAN'SBEINGNEGATIVE!" hysteria, I do think calling any underclassmen - regardless of "hype" - a bust is far too premature.


Not only is DT a position that often requires a player to learn technique he never needed in HS, but, building on top of what the poster mentions re: redshirting, these past few years of attrition have thrust young players into positions previously not required by the UM football program.


Back in the day, rumors of a player "not getting it" or not developing "fast enough" were just that - rumors.  Chris Perry getting transfer papers from Lloyd, Braylon being a hothead as a frosh, etc.  Those stories (1) weren't reported as fast/furiously in that media day, and (2) weren't as relevant at a time when U of M didn't require much from its underclassmen.

The past few years, this regime hasn't had the benefit to redshirt/stash underclassmen, and thus, we're seeing kids on the field that, admittedly, aren't ready, but it's obfuscating the fact that underclassmen are rarely ready.


August 30th, 2010 at 5:46 PM ^

He looked disinterested in the drills on the Big Ten replay, but several times last year in game action he looked really good and got some penetration and disrupted things in the middle.


I think it's important to note that tall NT have a hard time keeping their pads down in general.  Guys like Renes and Zorich were guys who would excel in this defense because they were agile and were short enough to always have their pads underneath the OL.  It's tough for guy's with certain types of bodies to play on the interior DL.  If he's top heavy, then there is no way he can play effectively inside, but he looks to have his weight pretty evenly distributed on his frame.  I think there is much conjecture from people who don't know about interior line play.  If BWC stands straight up and eats up the center and one of the guards...who cares where his hands are.


The guy has obviously worked hard at times or he wouldn't come into camp having lost weight, but the type of conditioning they are talking about is tough on big guys to do and there has to be some line of demarcation from 323 DL and 265LB DEs in the conditioning tests, but apparently there is not.  I would have loved to see him practice with more passion than I have in the past, but some guys are just gamers and I think he's a gamer.


August 30th, 2010 at 5:52 PM ^

Obviously, we are at least a year away from drawing any conclusions about Campbell. By the same token, it was widely reported that he showed up for camp over-weight and out of shape.

Now, it may be that if the program had normal depth, Campbell would have redshirted last year. But as he didn’t redshirt, he has the advantage of actual Division I competition, where he would have seen first-hand the difference between high school (where he could overpower almost anybody with raw strength) and college (where that is no longer possible without proper conditioning and technique).

So let’s not kid ourselves. On a preliminary basis, it has to be at least somewhat disappointing that he can’t crack the two-deep, especially if lack of effort in the off-season is a contributing factor. There is still time for him to avoid the “bust” label, but he has some work to do.


August 30th, 2010 at 6:28 PM ^

Big Will is going to continue to work hard and he will step up when he is needed.  DT is one of the toughest positions you can transition to from high school due to the strength of the offensive linemen.  I still believe he has a chance to be an all american someday, just needs to work on that technique a little more.


August 30th, 2010 at 7:00 PM ^

Good research - thanks.

Not being on the 2-deep has to be considered a significant but he is far from a bust yet.  Looking at him conditioning seems like the biggest issue.  Hopefully he isn't totally in the doghouse and gets on the field enough to work his way back up.


August 30th, 2010 at 8:03 PM ^

it's hard to rid the world of ignorance and those rip sophomore DTs.  the coaches on this board could probably answer better than me, but i would think DT (or NT) is one of the hardest positions to step into and contribute early; especially if up against more experienced OL.

i would think most DTs need to add "good weight" and learn technique when they get on campus.  QBs and Centers may be the only tougher positions, imo.

Blue boy johnson

August 30th, 2010 at 8:28 PM ^

This shit ain't nothin' but the negative version of "all about Denard", last I checked the 2010 season is in the future.

Not talking specifically about this well put together thread, but about the Will Campbell know it alls


August 30th, 2010 at 10:59 PM ^

The guy has so much potential and talent he just needs to start improving his technique and conditioning. We still have Mike Martin at the postion this year but hopefully Will realizes he can start next year and gets himself in shape next year.