|Teric Jones (gone), Thomas Gordon (here), William Campbell (here), Boubacar Cissoko (jailed)|
Name: William Campbell
Weight: 322 lbs.
High school: Cass Technical High School in Detroit, MI
Position: Defensive tackle
Jersey number: #73
Last year: I ranked Campbell #29 and said he would be the backup nose tackle. He was a backup NT (1 tackle, 1 pass breakup) for the first half of the season before switching to offensive guard and sitting on the bench.
Now for the curious case of William Campbell, the former 5-star defensive tackle who has made two position switches and barely played at either one. As a freshman in 2009, Campbell inexplicably played defensive tackle despite a) not being very good at it and b) having upperclassmen around him who could have just as easily taken those snaps. But there he was, getting pancaked or walled off and making a whopping 4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 2 pass breakups throughout the year. He should have been a redshirt freshman in 2010, when he had a lone tackle before being planted on the bench as a 6’5″ offensive guard. Campbell had a hard time playing with leverage, which is admittedly a tough thing to do when you’re a 6’5″ nose tackle (notice that the new coaching staff recruited the 6’3″ Ondre Pipkins for NT and continue to pursue the 6’2″ Danny O’Brien), which is yet another reason that the switch to a 3-3-5 was ridiculous.
So here we are in 2011. Campbell is a junior (instead of a redshirt sophomore). He’s been playing nose tackle (instead of 3-tech defensive tackle) for 1.5 years and offensive guard (instead of 3-tech defensive tackle) for half a year. When the new coaching staff was hired, they immediately put him back at defensive line and said, “This is what you’re going to do, and we’re going to coach you up until you do it well.” Campbell was 342 lbs. in the spring and, according to Brady Hoke, slimmed down to 316-319 by August. At times he looked dominant in the spring, and at other times he just looked okay. Facing single blocking from opposing offensive guards (who are likely lighter and less athletic than Campbell) he ought to be able to disrupt opponents’ backfields on a regular basis. With the pass rushing ability of Craig Roh on one side, the quick and strong Mike Martin on the other, and the well rounded Van Bergen at strongside end – not to mention improved coaching, focus, and conditioning – Campbell seems poised for a breakout season in 2011.
Prediction: 40 tackles, 3 sacks
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