One of the great mysteries in Stanford recruiting thus far in the 2005 class has been Fred Campbell. Unless you were at Stanford's overnight football camp in late June and recognized the New Rochelle (N.Y.) defender in his purple jersey and helmet in linebacker drills, you may not have had a clue about this Cardinal linebacker recruit before his verbal commitment two weeks ago to Stanford. Well, if you were a dutiful subscriber to The Bootleg Magazine, he would have popped onto your radar just before then as he made a debut appearance in our "Hot List" section on recruiting prospects. But with the low profile of New York high school football, the major recruiting services were mum on Campbell and his projected abilities.
A big reason why he slid under the recruiting radar is that colleges have not known what to make of the 6'1" 225-pound athlete. For his high school team, he plays defensive end in a scheme that alternates between a 4-3 and a 5-2. Campbell has not played linebacker since his sophomore year, and schools have been aching for a chance to evaluate him at the linebacker position where he would play at the college level. He was being actively recruited by the likes of Syracuse, Maryland, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Rutgers. They all pleaded with him to camp on their campus during the summer, so they could see how he played as a linebacker. He spurned them all and instead accepted just one college camp invitation - 3,000 miles away to Stanford.
If you are wondering why he would connect with the most distant school, look to his parents. The family lived in Oakland before they moved to New York, and Campbell's parents both hold degrees from the Bay Area. His father went to Cal and his mother graduated from Stanford.
So he took a gamble on himself and trekked across the country in June to showcase his linebacker abilities to the Cardinal coaching staff. The bet paid off. All eyes were on Campbell during the four days of camp, and Stanford accelerated their recruitment of the exciting new player who jumped to the top of their recruiting board. With a 3.2 core GPA, the coaches needed just one more data point before they moved forward with the New Rochelle find.
As Campbell returned home to New York after the Stanford camp experience, he found his SAT score in the mail. The standout student-athlete nailed a 1410 and immediately reported the score back to Palo Alto. That was all Stanford needed to hear, and they promptly extended a scholarship offer. Six weeks later, after contemplation and family discussion, the New Yorker called Buddy Teevens and Bill Cubit.
"We started talking about the program, talking about what they wanted to do and how they felt I could help them," Campbell recalls. "I told them that I wanted to commit to Stanford, and they were very excited."
"I had time to think about everything and talk with my family. We knew this was the best decision I could walk into," he explains of his decision. "Stanford has a beautiful campus and a good school. When I was there for camp, I got to stay in the dorms and saw the athletic complex. We had a tour of campus, too. I get a chance to play in the Pac-10, so there is nothing missing at all with football there."
One last detail for Campbell to tie up with Stanford and recruiting is the admissions application to the University. Armed with an impressive 1410 on his SAT, he has just about wrapped up his work on his essays. He is in the process of obtaining recommendations from teachers and counselors.
Now that you understand the recruiting background and decision path of Fred Campbell, you undoubtedly are asking just what kind of football player the Cardinal have landed. As a defensive end, he led New Rochelle in sacks with 13 in the 2003 season, and he led the Huguenots with eight tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in the state championship game. There NRHS upset Webster Schroeder in the Class AA state title game and ended a 31-game winning streak with a 32-6 victory.
Campbell is a thick and powerful player with great quickness. In a straight line he may not be as quick, but in lateral movement and burst he reminds of a bigger Michael Okwo. Campbell also plays tight end and a little fullback for his high school team, in addition to defensive end.
"I think I've got pretty good athleticism and I'm getting faster," he self-assesses. "I think my size is OK for now."
A strong 225 pounds, Campbell was third among linebackers at the Penn State Nike Camp in the bench press with 26 repetitions of 185 pounds. But more impressive was his #1 shuttle time of 4.08 seconds. At the RexPlex Tri-State Combine he was awarded a $3,000 scholarship as the top overall performer by the Downtown Athletic Club, in recognition of his showing in one-on-one drills as well as his testing (highlighted by a 35" vertical and 4.63 40). Campbell is also a track and field athlete, competing in the 100m, 200m and shotput. His personal best in the 100m dash is 11.5 seconds, but he confidently charges he will improve in his senior season. The 6'1" athlete also wrestled as a high school freshman, earning All-County honors, but he gave up the sport to concentrate on football.
Ultimately, though, it was his performances at Stanford's camp that earned him his offer. Adjusting to the linebacker position was no small task after a year on the defensive line, but he knew he showed well.
"I felt fine at linebacker," Campbell describes. "The coverage came easy for me. And I felt like I could run - nobody in camp ran by me."
For a closer look at Fred Campbell on the field, check out these junior year video clips.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!