Time Flies

Ole Miss Punter Tyler Campbell is having a hard time wrapping his head around the Missouri game this Saturday being his last home game as a Rebel and that is five-year collegiate career is nearing an end. It seems like yesterday. . . .

Fifth-year senior Punter Tyler Campbell remembers vividly packing his bags at his home in Little Rock, AR, and heading to Ole Miss to pursue his college football career.

"It's pretty amazing how time flies," said Campbell. "It's crazy. I was just getting recruited yesterday, it seems like.

"Even with the redshirt year last year, it's flown by. One reason I agreed to redshirt last year was to be able to spend more time in Oxford. And that has flown by too."

Campbell and the rest of the Rebel seniors had one goal in mind two years ago when Hugh Freeze took over the Rebel football program.

"We want to be remembered as the class that turned things around and got this program going in the right direction," he said. "I think that is the legacy every senior wants to leave.

"Last year, the Compass Bowl was OK, but we wanted more. We wanted to make sure we put an exclamation point on last year and did more this year."

Campbell and his class have been through the proverbial wringer of college football. The highs, the lows and the in-between.

"My freshman year (2009), we went to the Cotton Bowl. That was awesome. Then things went downhill pretty quickly," Campbell recalled. "It was pretty miserable losing that much."

Tyler Campbell
Chuck Rounsaville

The Rebs went 4-8 and then 2-10, respectively, in 2010 and 2011, but Campbell was at the peak of his performance.

In 2010, Campbell was the NCAA punting champion, averaging 46.37 yards a kick and being named third-team All-American and second-team All-SEC.

In 2011, his average dropped to a respectable 43.6 yards a kick, but he was second in the SEC in punts downed inside the 20 with 28.

"That was a tough year. We got so down as a team. I hate to say this, but it's true, by the time the Egg Bowl came around, we just wanted the season to get over with and turn the page," he stated. "We knew Coach (Houston) Nutt wasn't coming back and we were just ready for something different."

Enter Freeze.

Campbell assumed he and good friend, PK Andrew Ritter, would finish out their careers in 2012, but Freeze took a radical, gambling approach.

Freeze wanted to redshirt them both.

"Jim Broadway had transferred in for his senior year and we had Bryson Rose coming back, so Coach Freeze approached us about redshirting," noted Campbell. "Andrew and I jumped at the chance. It allowed us to get a Masters degree and it gave us a chance to improve.

"We worked a lot harder during our redshirt year because we didn't have to stay fresh for Saturdays. We kicked a lot - Monday through Friday, which you don't do during a season because you don't need a tired leg on Saturday. Andrew always wanted to kick field goals, but with Bryson and Josh Shene here our first four years, he was relegated to just kickoffs. So the redshirt worked out perfectly for us."

Freeze rolled the dice a little from a punting standpoint, but Broadway turned out to be adequate and Rose was very good.

Ritter has taken over the placements and has been very good, including the game-winner over LSU.

Andrew Ritter
USA TODAY images

"I'm so happy for Andrew. He always wanted to kick field goals and to see that happen for him, and for him to be as successful as he has been, has been awesome," Campbell noted.

This year, Campbell is currently fifth in the SEC, averaging 44.1 yards per punt.

He has a satisfying feeling about being a part of the turnaround.

"With a new administration and new coaches, and with what they have accomplished, Rebel Nation is rejuvenated and that's a real good feeling for the players," he said. "To have our fans so much behind us and to see everyone on the same page, that's been our goal the past two years.

"From my perspective, the momentum is just carrying on. We had the big recruiting class last February and now we are going to go to a bigger bowl if we finish off this year strong. This senior class has not only had a hand in turning the program around, but gaining momentum after we leave. That is what we wanted to do. I like the roll we are on as a football program."

While the Missouri game will be the seniors' last game in front of a home crowd, Campbell knows the "job" is not finished.

"We have two very tough games in front of us and we want to go out on a high note," he said. "We have accomplished quite a bit by beating some of the teams we have beaten, but we want to finish what we started.

"The Missouri game is huge. We want to show the nation we belong with the best. They are a fantastic team, but we want to prove we have to be dealt with."


At home. Last stand for the seniors in The Vaught. Against the No. 8 team in the nation. Packed house. National TV audience. Electric.

"I'm sad this is our last home game, but I couldn't ask for a better setting," Tyler closed.

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