Player Spotlight: Christian Campbell
It’s rare you see a college cornerback that is really big, really fast, and really far from home, but all three of those sum up this week’s player spotlight: Christian Campbell.
It might seem strange that Campbell chose to take his talent nearly 900 miles from his home in Phenix City, Alabama, but the three-star recruit was set on playing for the Nittany Lions. In fact, when Campbell officially decided he would be attending Penn State, he had never been to the campus before.
He’s not the only player south of the Mason-Dixon line on the team. Multiple southern recruits caught Franklin’s attention when he was the head coach at Vanderbilt. With Franklin’s 4.4 million dollar recruiting prowess, he was able to convince many of them to follow him to Happy Valley.
Others that decommitted from Vanderbilt to follow Franklin to Penn State include kick returner Koa Farmer, quarterback Trace McSorley, cornerbacks Grant Haley and Amani Oruwariye, and offensive tackle Brendan Brosnan, and OT Chance Sorrell.
“It’s a whole lot different. People talk different, the weather is different, the food is different, but it’s all good” Christian Campbell told Mark Brennan of FightOnState.com about his transition to the north.
Campbell’s biggest complaint about his transition from the south to the north is the food.
“What do I miss most? My mom’s Fried Chicken”.
The six-foot-one, 194 pound CB is in his third season for Penn State. He saw playing time in his true-freshman year and recorded his only career interception. It may seem surprising that he only has one career interception, but that is the nature of his game.
Campbell is a coverage corner, therefore his highlight reel includes plays that the receiver could not get open rather than interceptions.
Even though his sophomore year was cut short five games due to an injury, Campbell demonstrated significant growth at the position. Campbell attributes that growth to excellent leadership that has been on the team in past years.
“We had people that were older than us when we were playing, and they took us under their wing and they showed us what to do and how to handle things,” Campbell told the media before the Temple game. “They were our role models.”
Campbell is not currently listed as a starting cornerback, but he is an integral part of the rotation. Even though some players would be frustrated about that role, Campbell says his focus is on playing well.
“All the corners work hard so we all deserve to play, so we don’t worry about the rotation” Campbell said.
Despite Campbell’s uncharacteristic size, he is extremely fast and athletic. He runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and has a 36.6-inch vertical. To put that in perspective, the Washington Redskins’ cornerback Josh Norman, highly regarded as one of the NFL’s best, runs a 4.66 40-yard dash and a has a 33.0-inch vertical.
With the defensive line struggling in the absence of three draft picks (Carl Nassib, Austin Johnson, and Anthony Zettel), the role of the secondary has increased in importance. Since opposing quarterbacks have extended time in the pocket, the defensive backs are left covering receivers longer. This is why having depth, with players such as Christian Campbell, is so important to the success of this team.
Paddy Cotter is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org