Campbell's souped up

Figuring the turf had to be greener on another field, Todd Campbell nearly quit Tennessee's football team last spring. Now he's glad he didn't. Vol fans should be glad, too.

With Austin Rogers (ACL) out for the year and fellow receiver Denarius Moore (broken foot) sidelined indefinitely, Campbell could prove to be one valuable Volunteer this fall, based on his early work in preseason camp.

"I'm making it," he said following a strong showing in Tuesday's practice. "I'm pushing through."

Todd Campbell wasn't nearly so upbeat last spring. After seeing mop-up duty in just one varsity game (Mississippi State) as a redshirt freshman in 2008, the 6-0, 186-pound Nashville native was all set to transfer.

"After that last staff (was fired), I wanted to go through the spring and see how I was going to do," he recalled. "I ended up doing really well in the spring, so I knew I didn't want to go anywhere."

Sealing the deal was the fact Campbell said he "felt real comfortable" with new receivers coach Frank Wilson "because I knew he was going to take me under his wing and show me the way."

The decision to stick around looked really good when Rogers' mid-summer knee injury threw open the wide receiver competition.

"A light bulb went on when Austin got hurt," Campbell said, "and I've just been rolling ever since."

When Moore's foot injury proved to be much more serious than the original diagnosis, Tennessee found himself down two wideouts and Campbell found himself moving up the depth chart.

"It was a blessing in disguise, especially with me thinking about leaving," he said. "Coach Wilson is always telling me, 'Coach (Lane Kiffin) is giving you the opportunity; you need to seize it because it may never come again."

Campbell struggled to get off press coverage last fall and, as a result, struggled to get off the bench. Now that he's playing more physically and more aggressively, he's likely to play more regularly.

"I think I've made the most progress in one-on-one combat," he said. "I think that's one of the things that was holding me back. Mentally, I just don't think I was ready for it. Some people take longer than others."

In addition to a new mindset, Campbell has a new number this fall. He's wearing No. 85 these days because last year's number (11) was promised to freshman tailback Bryce Brown, rated the No. 1 prospect in America when he signed with the Vols last February.

"It was a surprise to me," Campbell said. "But a number's a number. If you're going to ball, you're going to ball in whatever number you're going to wear.

"I could wear 137, and if I'm still playing I'm fine with that."

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