DE, Calais "Too Tall?" Campbell

How long ago was it when the average defensive end was about 6'3" and weighed in around 240 or so pounds? Was it that long ago? It sure seems like it because every time I turn around, they've grown an inch, gained ten pounds and took a couple of tenths off of their forty. And now, I see this Calais Campbell standing at almost 6'8" and you just have to take a deep breath and wonder, can they get any bigger than this?

Coming from the down position, you would have to think that the taller you are, the harder it's going to be for you to get up, get going and get where you want to go. Tell that to a kid that comes from the down position who stands at almost 6'8" tall who just so happened to haul in quarterbacks like Babe Winkleman reels in fish, putting the signal-callers down in the backfield 19 times last year.

Quite honestly, you could stop right there and if you aren't impressed with Campbell, something is wrong with you. The ability to get that kind of body moving up-field, you either better be real strong or real quick. While Campbell is working on the latter, he's using the former quite nicely right now. "I'm quick enough that I can use my outside rush to set them up at the beginning and then, move to the inside rush to get to the quarterback." Calais stated. "I just usually take whatever my opponent is giving me and I fake to the other direction."

Campbell has a favorite move that relies on that quickness for success. "My favorite move is getting them going up-field when I go outside and I come back real fast, grab them and let their momentum help me take them out of the play. It's kind of like Reggie White's move, really."

In comparison, at least in size, nobody will mistake Campbell for the future Hall of Famer, white, but there is another former NFL

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player and All-Pro that some will compare him to, if only on their size and potential. That of course being Ed "Too Tall" Jones. Standing at 6'9", Jones is the most obvious comparison in frame to this potential pro and Campbell finds his size benefits him in a similar fashion as to the former Cowboy great. "When I rush up-field, quarterbacks can't see over me to throw, so it forces them out and on the run and that's when I can get a shot at them." Campbell stated.

To stay with the NFL theme, though Campbell might resemble in physicality more to the likes of Jones, it's another more recent rush end that he says epitomizes not where he is, but where he wants to be. "I like Jevon Kearse a lot." he said. "I want to be just like that. I want to be in that mold that puts me in a class by myself."

Athletically, Kearse is indeed in a class by himself as his nickname "The Freak" came from an athlete prowess never before seen by a player at his position. There is one thing though that Kearse and any successful rush end does have in common though and that's a desire to damage someone, something Campbell says he has plenty of when he is out on the field. "I have to get to them." Calais said eagerly about getting to the quarterback. "That's what I do and that's what I am about."

And again, Campbell did that a reported 19 times last year and that means, 19 times to think about that hit right before it comes. It's the ultimate moment for most defensive players when they have the QB in their sights and there's nothing between them and the "promise land". What is different to a degree though is just what goes through their mind, but most of the time, it's not good for the quarterback. With Calais, it's no different with him. "I want him to know that was me that hit him." Calais said. "I want him to look for me next time and know I am there. If his face digs into the ground and he comes up with grass in his mask, that's the best."

The best is what most football players want to be, whether it's individually or as part of the best team. Campbell echoes those sentiments equally, but as to the individual side, he's got his eyes on something that will not just make you think he's the best, he'll have the record to prove it. "I'm going to go for the state sack record this year." Calais said. A record that stands at a reported 27.

Campbell knows it's going to be hard, because he's not just some rush end from somewhere of no consequence. He's Calais Campbell and he's realized that in spite of being humble, he knows he's a target, something he's actually used to. "I get double-teamed all the time." he said. "I know that's going to happen this year, but I am going to get a couple sacks a game at least."

Campbell is a target off the field as well, but definitely in a more positive note. Well, as long as you aren't the one having to listen to the incessant ringing of the phone, everyone wanting to talk to this potential All-American. "It's crazy." Campbell stated. "I get phone calls from magazines and places like that all the time. I like the hype though, because it makes me feel better about what I have done."

Something else that's bound to make him feel better about himself isn't just the large boxes of mail he has, but the offers he's gotten thus far. Campbell reports that it's sitting at 9 right now, but check out who some of these 9 schools are. "Miami, Florida, Nebraska, Oregon, CSU, Washington and schools like that." Campbell stated.

And, if you take what his coach has to say as a legit prognostication of what's to come for Calais, those 9 offers are just the tip of the iceberg. Here's what Campbell's coach had to say in an interview done with the Insiders:

"Calais has the ability to un-coil from his stance like a snake striking out," Coach Mullaney added. "He is long and has lean mass. When he puts his hands in the air, he stands nine feet tall. He is something every college dreams of in a defensive end. I feel his best long-term potential is at defensive end, although, some may recruit him at tight end. Either way, they'll be getting a great player."

You will have to pardon the pun, but the "big" question here is, who does Calais like now. Does anyone stand above anyone else? "I don't care where I play football." he said. "I just want to play."

Ok, so where he plays isn't that big of a deal, but surely there's some things about his college of choice that are important and will ultimately decide just where he ends up. "I like when players graduate from their schools." Calais said. "I like that and when they put players into the NFL also, because I want to go to a place that puts people there."

"I'm so open right now though, I am just looking at everyone. There's so many schools out there, I don't even know where to begin."

He'll begin with the season, Campbell said to me and after that, he'll take a closer look at his options. While Calais said he wants to be selective, he may find his decision actually coming not just before the end of his football career, but possibly just a couple games into this final season. "I want to take a couple of visits first, but I think maybe after a couple games into the year, I might, but I don't know for sure."

Take a look around and it seems unanimous that Calais' star is on the rise, perhaps to become four stars or maybe one more than that. If he gets his sack goal, that might be a given, but what seems painfully obvious (at least for quarterbacks), Campbell should be a force to be reckoned with this year.

And you never know, because let's remember, he's not even a senior yet. He could get taller and we can then start calling him "Too Tall 2".

Ok, maybe not.

Steve Ryan can be reached at or 402-730-5619

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