Caleb Campbell pounds the opposition

He's all over the place, all the time, tackling running backs, harrassing quarterbacks, picking off passes. He's Army strong safety Caleb Campbell and he could take his act to the National Football League someday. Several Army players have earned a shot at the NFL in the last decade. Eric Olsen.

Ron Leshinski. Eric Olsen. Michael Wallace. C.W. Estes. Joel Davis. Lyle Weaver. Scott Wesley. Ronnie McAda.

McAda was the only one drafted. He became the so-called Mr. Irrelevant when the Green Bay Packers took him with the last pick of the 1997 draft (seventh round, 240 overall). The other players, for the most part, were given non-guaranteed contracts and tryouts with no strings attached. Campbell? He could get drafted a lot higher than Mr. Irrelevant. Time will tell.

At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Campbell, a junior, is one of the biggest strong safeties in college football. Army coach Bobby Ross calls Campbell one of the best strong safeties in the country. And Ross isn't one for hyperbole.

Campbell became a starter midway through his freshman year, debuting at the whip, a creation of failed Army coach Todd Berry. The whip is a morphing of a linebacker/safety/cover man position. With so many reads and responsibilities on every play, it was confusing to play.

So Ross whacked the whip in favor of a 4-3 scheme. Not only did Army's defense thrive, but Campbell had a coming out party, too.

Campbell led Army with 97 tackles last season and had five interceptions. His five interceptions served as the most by a Black Knight since Kenny Dale Rowland picked off five passes in 1998. Campbell's effort helped Army jump from 117th in total defense in the nation to 37th.

Campbell was named an Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Division I-A all-star last season. The squad included Boston College seniors Mathias Kiwanuka (defensive end) and Will Blackmon (wide receiver/cornerback). Blackmon now plays for Green Bay and Kiwanuka for the New York Giants.

Maybe Campbell will be on the same team with Kiwanuka and Blackmon again in the future.


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