With so many high school prep stars making their commitments back at the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl three years ago, it was five star defensive tackle William Campbell out of Detroit Cass Tech who created the most confusion. Releasing a statement one day prior to the announcement, Campbell claimed he had dropped Michigan from contention (GBW knew better, lol) but when it was his turn to be on the national stage with the table full of hats, the Michigan Wolverines landed one of the most highly touted but unproven defensive players in the country.
Fast forward to 2012 and it's once again Campbell's turn to capture the national spotlight, a spotlight that appeared in the form of a starting position at the Sugar Bowl.
"I'd known for a little bit that I was going to get playing time, I didn't know if I was going to start or not—but it all came down to kickoff and then everything just dropped on me," said Campbell. "I had butterflies in my stomach and had to get that first snap out of me (smiling)."
Back in '09 Campbell displayed an outgoing, confident demeanor when he put on Michigan's hat to make his commitment, but the reinvented junior was far from calm when the Wolverine defense took the field for the first time against Virginia Tech.
"There were a million things running through my head because we had a lot of time to watch film on Virginia Tech—so I was looking at formations, where the back was, there were just a million things running through my head at the same time," said Campbell.
Campbell was thrust into a starting role leading up to the Sugar Bowl because of the injury to fifth year senior Will Heininger. With the experience and leadership Heininger possessed there was no way Campbell wasn't going to have an extra voice in his ear during bowl practices.
"He was just like another coach," BWC said. "He obviously had a lot more playing time than me so, I just listened to everything he did—and everything I listened to came out as a benefit."
Heininger is one of the few Michigan players ever to go through three head coaches throughout his career. Although Campbell only experienced two coaches, a clean slate couldn't have come soon enough with Brady Hoke and his staff breaking him down and building him back up.
"It was just like taking a brick of clay—they just molded me and I'm just trying to get to where they need me to be," said Campbell.
Campbell was able to see first hand what it's like when a team sticks together and displays tremendous leadership to underclassmen, something the seniors didn't shy away from.
"It was a great bunch of guys, one of the best senior classes I've had since I've been here," said Campbell. "Everybody loved each other and we just played as a family.
With such a strong senior class now headed out the door to the NFL or the regular working world, Campbell will try to do whatever it takes to have the same effect on team 133.
"I'm going to try my best to mimic the guys who led me in the past, try my best to be like a Brandon Graham to whoever comes in—I mean (Richard) Ash, I'm like his mentor and I'm going to try to get him up to par," said Campbell.
"I'm just trying to do my best to make Michigan, Michigan."
BWC ready to be a leader for Team 133?
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