Campbell Enjoys Challenge of Special Teams

Fifth-year senior Anton Campbell has been a force on the Wolverines special teams the past two seasons. A player who came to Ann Arbor to see action on the offense side of the ball, Campbell's transition to the games most under appreciated unit shows the selflessness of the former four-star recruit.

ANN ARBOR -- When Anton Campbell came to Michigan out of O'Fallon, Mo., it was to carry the ball for the Wolverines. Drawing comparisons to the great Gale Sayers, Campbell came to the Midwest with one thing in mind for his Michigan career.

"I'm definitely going to be a running back," Campbell told Chris Pool of the Network after his commitment for the class of 2003.

As it would happen, things changed. After working out at running back for his freshman season, Campbell, who came to Michigan at 6-foot-0, 190-pounds with a 4.40 forty, was asked to make the switch to defensive back.

"It's funny because Darnell (Hood) told me that was going to happen," Campbell joked on Monday afternoon. "He was the host on my visit. He asked me what I was trying to play and he told me that they'd start me at running back and then move me to DB."

Despite practicing at safety for the final four years of his Michigan career, defense isn't where Campbell has made his mark on the Michigan program. As was the case for Hood before him, Campbell, who has thrived in his role with the Maize and Blue the past two years, has become the leader of the Wolverines special teams.

"He put that mentality in me that you want the opportunities to make plays. You have to be the first one down the field and make the play, then everyone will know who you are.

"You've got to want it. It's the same as any other position, you have to want it. You have to want it more than your opponent."

Coach Lloyd Carr continued.

"What you're trying to sell your team as a coach is that those special teams impact almost every game. I mean, I think that's no secret. Everybody knows that. But if you can convince those people how important those plays are, every one of them, what you're trying to do is create pride in that team, in that unit. You can't do that unless you have guys who take pride in those plays. What's fun to see is when they have some success and do some things, and it's clear that those plays impacted a game, maybe won a game.

"Because it's very difficult as a special teams player to get recognition, except within the framework of your team or if you're at a skill position where you get to handle the ball or you have to do something extraordinary to block a punt. Essentially a lot of guys grow up thinking that special teams are not that big a deal."

Anton Campbell and the Wolverines next return to the field to battle the Minnesota Golden Gophers for the little brown jug. After losing the jug to the Gophers the last time they made the trip to Ann Arbor, the Wolverines look to run their win streak against the Gophers to two games after last seasons win in Minneapolis. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN Classic.

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