What type of season does BWC need to avoid "bust" status?

Submitted by Mr. Rager on February 8th, 2012 at 7:30 PM

There was some arguing going on over at a premium site's message board after one of their moderators called Big Will Campbell a "bust".  

I started to think about it a bit, and I don't think there's anyway to call him a bust (yet).  He could conceivably have such an amazing senior year that we forget the last 3 years ever existed and he actually gets drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL draft.  

This is very unlikely to happen, I believe, but haven't we seen this story before?  You might have some names come to mind (David Harris, Gabe Watson, and Alan Branch perhaps).  But are those cases as support for "BWC could dominate next year" valid?  

  • David Harris was a non-contributor before his junior season and didn't break through as a meaningful player until his senior year.  Trouble is he had a knee injury that held him back the first two years, so it's not really fair to Harris to include him here.
  • Gabe Watson broke through in his third year and was just as solid as a senior.  Campbell can't exactly catch him, either.
  • Alan Branch blossomed his junior year (did not redshirt) to the level that he was able to go pro after the season ended.  He also played alongside Woodley, so there's that to consider.  

In my opinion we've only seen this happen once in the last ten years.  Where a player was lambasted most of their time at Michigan, but came through with a big enough senior year to leave positive memories in most fans' heads: Stevie Brown.  Campbell needs a Stevie Brown-esque Senior Year improvement in order to avoid a "bust" label for his time spent at Michigan.  That's what I hope happens, anyway.  



February 8th, 2012 at 7:48 PM ^

I would say that BWC has to be at least honorable mention all-conference to be considered a "non-bust" given his recruiting hype.  I can give him the benefit of the doubt and say recruiting sites overrated him by one star value.  If I recall, the typical forecast when ranking high school athletes:

5-star = potential all american

4-star = potential all conference

3-star = potential starter

EDIT: That said, I would still be thrilled if he was serviceable as a starter given the departures on DL.


February 8th, 2012 at 7:37 PM ^

it all depends on what your expectations were for him. I always saw him as a space eater who wouldn't rack up stats but would at least force double teams that allow other guys to get 1 on 1's. If BWC can do that this year I will be more than satisfied considering the coaching he got his fist 2 yrs here when they couldn't decide whether he was an OL or DL.


February 8th, 2012 at 9:10 PM ^

It wasn't just coaching. A space eater who only fufills his role his senior year is eh. Sounds like what would have been the hope for a Banks or Sagasse type recuit (although they were never just space eaters). Campbell had a lot of measurables that could mean big things (forgive the pun), but he could never put it together. It would take a lot to move beyond bust.


February 9th, 2012 at 12:27 AM ^

Dude, it wasn't the coaching. You can complain all you want about the coaching staff under RR, but Bruce Tall was an excellent coach. He had THREE defenislve line coaches this past year and still only contributed marginally. Please dispense with the revisionist history.


February 8th, 2012 at 7:37 PM ^

Did people actually watch him play this season?  He didn't start because we had two all-conference seniors at DT, but he made a very positive contribution to the team.  It isn't like opponents started running the ball down our throats the second he entered games.

Expecting much of anything his first two years was dumb (SEE Gabe Watson's development), especially considering how raw and flabby he was when he got to UM.  Expecting him to play a ton or make a ton of plays at that position last year with Martin and RVB at the position (he had 2 sacks compared to Martin's 3.5) is just as dumb.



February 8th, 2012 at 7:50 PM ^

I'm not so sure the OP is ragging on him as a "bust" so far though he has been a bit underwhelming.  I think the general overall question would be: given the fact that he was the top rated player in the state, #5 DT in the nation, and a 5-star rated athlete, what sort of standard do we as a collective fanbase set for those types of players coming in?  

Considering there are about 30 athletes each year in the country given such accolades, I expect an all conference selection from those players at a minimum.  Of course it doesn't happen, and that's likely the recruiting rating being innacurate, but being a top 30 player in the country [regardless of position] should mean that you're at least one of the top 2-3 players in your conference [at your position] by the time you graduate.


February 8th, 2012 at 8:29 PM ^

This is exactly right. BWC regularly contributed this past season. When he was in, he was certainly not a liability. In fact, he flashes potential several times.

Looking at his career, BWC certainly wasn't helped by the coaching and the environment these past two year. (caveat: not a shot at rr at all). The defensive coaching staff flat out sucked and failed him in two ways: (1) from many of the current players, the old d coach were crappy at teaching fundamentals. This was exactly what a kid like BWC - athletic Freak but raw as hell - needed. Kids don't develop proper technique on their own. (2) wasting a year of his eligibility playing OL. Look author kid? He has d-line written all over his massive body.

Last year was his first year in a good environment for Jim to develop and he tool major strides forward. He has also admitted that he hasnt pushed as hard as necessary in the weight room, but that he is now pushing himself to the limit. I believe him, as it tales a lot to admit that. Chime the coaching with the weight room effort and I think that BWC has good things in store.

Mr. Rager

February 8th, 2012 at 8:29 PM ^

Just playing devil's advocate here:

Fact is he still didn't start.  Could have potentially moved RVB back outside if Campbell could have played the three tech.  In his Junior year (no redshirt), Gabe Watson was All B1G with 37 tackles, 7 TFL, and 2 sacks.  Campbell had 14 tackles, 2.5 TFL, and 2 sacks.  

Pretty wide gap there to even be mentioning Junior Watson with Junior Campbell....


February 8th, 2012 at 10:52 PM ^

I think part of the problem is people undervalue RVB.  He made more tackles than Watson did as a senior (45), and posted 12.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks.  That is more than Branch and Taylor combined in 2006 (11 TFL and 3 sacks between the pair).  There wasn't any reason to move him outside.  Martin made another 64!!!! tackles, 6 TFL, and 3.5 sacks.  Campbell was backing up two absolute beasts.

I also think posting the numbers of these other guys (Branch, Watson, Taylor) shows that BWC doesn't have to up his production much to match them if we just assume he gets 2-3 times as many snaps next year.  The guy is going to have a very good senior season and has developed in exactly the manner one would/should expect.  He just happened to find himself on a team with two DTs who had incredible senior seasons, and as such limited anybody else's opportunity for playing time.


February 8th, 2012 at 7:40 PM ^

He needs to hold off Ondre Pipkins for the starting spot, and he needs to blow up the OL like I've seen him do.  He himself as said effort is an issue.  If he goes 100%, he is a force to be reckoned with.

For me, if he holds his starting spot all season, and I notice him regularly in the backfield, he will not be a bust.


February 8th, 2012 at 8:59 PM ^

I dont really consider a true freshman and a 3 year underachiever side by side scary. Then you put in Roh (who will be all-conference honorable mention if he has a great season) , and a good but relatively inexperienced player on the other edge and you have a major work in progress front 4. I hope the best and have faith in the coaches that they'll teach em up, but scary wasnt the word that crossed my mind first.


February 8th, 2012 at 7:46 PM ^

BWC played the 3-tech this year, as I believe he's expected to play next year, with either Ash or QWash playing the 1-tech. Pipkins was also recruited as a 1-tech, so BWC should probably worry more about someone like Wormley, Godin, or Willie Henry taking his spot. Not that I think any of them will. 

Sac Fly

February 8th, 2012 at 7:42 PM ^

He can have an All-American season but will that change anything? He's always going to be a player who didn't live up to potential because the bar was set too high.


February 8th, 2012 at 7:53 PM ^

If he's an All-American, even for one season, I think calling him a bust will be incredibly unfair.

Yeah it stinks he wasn't able to be a major contributor earlier in his career here, but if he has a Nick Fairley type season, all will be forgiven I believe.


February 8th, 2012 at 7:55 PM ^

I'm not so sure that he qualifies here, considering that he didn't have the high rankings and expectations to begin with.  Hard to call someone a bust when no one expects anything from them.

EDIT:  I misunderstood your reasoning behind your list of examples, as your point was mainly to provide examples of late bloomers.  I don't always herp, but when I do, I prefer to derp.


February 8th, 2012 at 7:50 PM ^

Seeing as it's possible it could be him and Pipkins up the middle, I almost expect him to garner all-Big Ten honors. He had all last season to learn from RVB and Mike Martin and now he'll get to put those lessons to work. 


February 8th, 2012 at 8:01 PM ^

I think the defensive line just needs to be good for him not to be a bust. If the defensive line does good as a whole and he's a big part of it he won't be a bust. That's just my opinion though, and it wouldn't hurt if he put up some good numbers.


February 8th, 2012 at 8:17 PM ^

We talk about this all the time.  If BWC isn't dramatically improved after the DL coach, the DC, and the head coach have a year to work, then he is a bust.  Martin and VanBergen were tremendous.  Those are big shoes to fill.  But with the coaches we have and the emphasis on the trenches, BWC will own whatever level of player he is at the end of his tenure at Michigan.  Along with everyone else on the board, I am hoping for a break-out year.


February 8th, 2012 at 8:24 PM ^

. . . he looks just too tall to play like a Mike Martin type (obviously) but does well when he has a little space.  He actually looks to have some nose for the quarterback though.  I hope the coaches can use him to best fit his strengths.  Either way, it's about the team, not a five star being a superstar. 


February 8th, 2012 at 8:28 PM ^

Why can't all low point guys post insightful stuff like this?

I think he will need to be a potential first 4 round pick.  But one great year, despite draft position, will make people forget about the last few years.  It's not how you start in college football, it's how you finish.  Before al these freshman and sophs took the field and started right out the gate, development like this was normal.  (well maybe not like this, but more common)


February 8th, 2012 at 8:49 PM ^

I don't particularly care about conference awards for individual players.  They're nice, but a lot of really good players don't get the individual credit (for a whole host of reasons).

He has already shown this past season that he has the ability to be a very good player.  He just needs to show he can do it down after down. And the moderator calling him a bust before he steps foot on the field for his senior year is an idiot.  As others have pointed out, after poor coaching and position changes, he is finally starting to show what he is capable of doing.  Let him prove himself on the field his senior year.


February 8th, 2012 at 9:11 PM ^

....quite a bit of faith that BWC will end up a rock solid player on the DLine this coming season. He was one of those 5-star players who rated highly based primarily on his size and measurables, not on skill. And remember, he spent his first seasons at UM under the tutelage of people who could not, for various reasons, get him to where he needed to be. He has that now, has had it for one season and going on another. The  jump he made between 2010 and 2011 was significant. Another jump similar to that and he will be amongst the dominant DLinemen in the conference. It is a shame that he couldn't have had Mattison and Hoke for all four years, otherwise, we might not be discussing this particular topic right now.

Charlie Chunk

February 8th, 2012 at 9:16 PM ^

BWC was a contributor last season.  He made plays.  IMO, it's hard to be an impact player when there's quality seniors playing ahead of you.

It won't come as a surprise to me when he takes the reins and leads the 'D' this year. 

Don't worry about it, because there's no "bust" in his future!

Go Blue!


February 8th, 2012 at 9:22 PM ^

Unfortunately, I think he's a bust (to a degree) no matter what he does this season. The reason for this is because a 5 star player is projected to be a multiple year impact player at the college level. Thus far he hasn't done that. Even if he has a breakout year and gets drafted, I don't think it's enough to justify 3 years of little production. He was expected to contribute early in some way his freshman and sophomore years, then be in line for All Big-Ten and National Honors as an upperclassman. IMO, the only thing he can prove this year is if he was a complete bust, or if he was a solid 1 year contributer that faced difficult circumstances and couldn't (understandably) live up to all his lofty expectations. With that said, we need him in a big way this year and I hope to see him reach his enormous potential while wrecking some foo's come Sept. 1st.


February 8th, 2012 at 9:31 PM ^

To be completely honest, I think he has to go out there and dominate to not be a bust...

Rivals 5 Stars are supposed to be sure-fire prospects that have high NFL potential...

Big Will has done nothing that an average three star couldnt do...

Do I think he could have a good senior season? Yes.

Do I think he could be a great contributor next season? Yes.

Does that account for the first three years and then warrant his 5 star rating? Not at all.

Who knows?... If he's a 1st-3rd round pick next draft season, then I'll say he wasnt a bust.