Campbell Can Make Immediate Impact

Inside Carolina spoke with Woodbridge (Va.) head coach Gary Wortham to learn more about UNC’s newest verbal commitment, Kyree Campbell, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive tackle.

WOODBRIDGE, Va. --- From watching the commitment announcement, you could tell that Gary Wortham is more than just a coach to Kyree Campbell.

The Woodbridge (Va.) head coach, who Campbell fondly refers to as “Pops,” discussed his star defensive lineman.

What is UNC gaining in Kyree Campbell?

“Oh man, they’re getting a genuine young man. They’re getting a young man who’s humble, a young man that’s pretty much had to work for a lot of things just based off how his living situation is, and quality player. We’re excited.”

What has the UNC staff told you about their plans for Campbell?

“He’s their No. 1 recruit for 2016, hands down. They feel right away that he can contribute to [Gene] Chizik’s scheme and be a high contributor right away. And I know that’s something he’s looking forward to, too.”

UNC has been recruiting Campbell for a couple years. During that time, it has completely changed its defensive coaching staff. What impact did that have on Campbell?

“It all started out with Coach [Keith] Gilmore before Coach Gilmore left and went to Notre Dame. Coach Gilmore and I have a long, long relationship. My defensive coordinator played at Howard University and played for Coach Gilmore, which – we thought – was going to make some shakes in the road in the recruiting process because of that relationship that Kyree ended up building with him.

“But the consistency of Coach [Larry] Fedora is what stood out in the middle of all this. Out of every head coach that could possibly recruit this young man, Fedora by far when the NCAA allowed him to do what he needed to do, he did it. And he was consistent with it. I think it spoke high volumes to [Campbell] and his heart, and it definitely did for me as a high school coach. For a man of that stature to let a young man know, ‘You are a fit here for us.’”

You’ve said from the beginning that you wouldn’t make the decision for him, but that you would be involved. What advice did you provide him?

“Actually what he explained: each time he touched that campus [at UNC], he was happy; each time he visited he was happy. You take away football – you take away all the glamour and the glory – what would serve him the most? It’s the fit of being a college student. Those were kind of the guidelines that we set for him in regards to him making his decision.”

You’ve been a part of just about all of his recruiting travels. Can you summarize what this journey has been like?

“He became a high profile guy his sophomore year as a defensive end – he was a lot smaller, lanky. We just ended up hitting the road everywhere just about. Who wouldn’t take a look at a kid who as a sophomore was 6-3, still has two inches to grow, and was 15 [years old] at the time? Kyree is only 17 [years old now], so there’s still room to grow. With all that being said, it just [got] a lot of interest from a lot of people and that started the quest of the traveling. It was worth it – especially to get to this point.

“As far south as South Carolina, Alabama – 12-hour drive from here (eight-hour drive from South Carolina) to Penn State. Between those two sectors and hitting Ohio State in the middle. And then hitting Tennessee when we got an opportunity to do so after they made an offer, which was here late. There’s been a lot of road trips.”

When he said those kind words about you in his announcement speech – particularly referring to you as “Pops” – what did that mean to you?

“It sticks to the heart, you know? It’s a young man who cares about his coach and coaches. It says to me that he respects me and he’s thankful for what we’ve done to help him along his quest. That means a lot for a young guy. It was heart wrenching to hear those words and I’m very thankful for that.

“Kyree’s been a good young man. I think what worked for Kyree was the move to get on this end of Virginia and being blessed to be around the quality staff that we have. And that’s not trying to give myself credit, but I try to be a good man every day.”

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