Redshirt Rewarded

Every time Dante Campbell has caught a pass in college, it's been for a touchdown.

Now, that's definitely a loaded statistic, but the redshirt freshman inside receiver for West Virginia has jumped on his opportunity through two games this season.

In the second quarter against James Madison on Saturday, Campbell caught a pass from senior quarterback Geno Smith that led to a four-yard touchdown.

He got his first two breakthroughs of his career at WVU completed in one touch of the football.

"I was more shocked that I was wide open; I knew I was going to catch it," Campbell said. "It was the best feeling. I'm always going to remember that moment, but I'm hoping that there will be way more to come."

It didn't come quickly for Campbell, though. He spent last year on the bench, redshirting while he got acclimated to college.

"At the beginning it was really hard," he said. "About midway through the season, I realized that it was the best thing for me to do. Honestly, I wasn't really ready. I didn't want to waste a year. Every practice, I had to go up against the first team defense like Keith Tandy and all of them. It made me work harder, so when I get a chance to play, I take advantage of it."

Now, he is a bit more prepared. He says he's years more mature and understands the offense more now.

Junior wide receiver Stedman Bailey, who also redshirted his first year, can see Campbell's potential.

"I think he'll be very good as time goes on," Bailey said. "That whole year off, for me, I got to take advantage of trying to bulk up and add some muscle. Now they've got guys like us to learn from and see how we work the offensive things like that, so I think that will be pretty good in the long run."

It's hard to get catches consistently with receivers like Tavon Austin and Bailey on the roster. Those two are at or near the top of nearly every receiving category in the country.

However, players like Campbell, K.J. Myers, Jordan Thompson and J.D. Woods among others need to take advantage of any opportunity to get their hands on the ball.

"They're playmakers, so I can learn from them every game and every practice," Campbell said. "They're only two receivers, though, and we can have five receivers on the field, so there's still going to be a chance to get the ball. We just have to learn from them."

Eventually, however, Austin and Bailey will be gone and it will be up to others like Campbell to step up. Campbell hasn't thought much about it. Instead, he's trying to enjoy the time he has with the star receivers and learn as much as he can from them.

"They're going to leave us their job, and we'll have to take advantage of it," Campbell said. "I'm just trying to have fun while they're still here and keep learning from them so that, when they do leave, I can step up and take that spot."

One catch.

One touchdown.

It's a good start – one that Campbell would like to continue.

"I was real patient. I had to wait a long time for that," Campbell said. "Everybody has a chance to get the ball in this offense, so you just have to get open."

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