After all, there were plenty of linebackers other than freshmen who were more than capable of playing the Sam position, thus there didn't seem to be a need to hurry him into the lineup. Having him as a fifth-year senior seemed like a perfect scenario.
Fast forward two weeks and not only is Campbell not redshirting, he's likely going to see very significant playing time and play a key role in Clemson's success this season thanks to a couple of unfortunate injuries to two veteran starters.
"At practice, I always prepared myself to play for cases like this," Campbell said. "My dad brought me up to prepare myself for the worst-case scenario. I was prepared, but they talked about (redshirting me) and I thought it was done until a couple days ago."
Campbell went into Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic as the third-string Sam linebacker. He wound playing 27 snaps and finished with six tackles, third-best on the team.
But when middle linebacker Anthony Waters went down in the third quarter with a season-ending injury to his knee, the positions of the entire linebacking corps came into question.
To compensate for the loss of Sam linebacker Tremaine Billie, who broke his foot two weeks ago, and now Waters, players may have to switch positions.
"(Waters) was the soul of our defense," Campbell said. "There's no one person that can replace him. It's going to have to be replacement by committee."
If Antonio Clay, who started at Sam on Saturday, is switched to middle linebacker, the position he played all of last year, Campbell will become a fixture on the field.
"When I first came here, I thought my impact was going to be on special teams or whatnot," Campbell said. "But things happen for a reason and things happened to our team that we didn't expect to happen and we have to adjust to that."
Campbell said the adjustment to learning such a new and complex defense hasn't been that difficult thanks to the likes of Waters and Billie.
"I know when I came in, I had Tremaine Billie and Anthony Waters and they were looking out for me and helping me learn all the different calls and the way things were ran here," he said. "Last year, they didn't have those kind of guys, but I was lucky enough to have those people to help with the transition from high school to college."
This isn't exactly the way Campbell wanted to get his playing time, but he understands that it's a part of life.
"Tragedy happens to everybody," he said. "It's a violent, contact sport. … It just so happens that all of our tragedies happen to have come right now. … At least now, we have time to prepare. I think it's better now than later."
Campbell's Role to Increase
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