Wide receiver George Campbell has an explosive 37-inch vertical. (Sam Webb)
After hosting 13 football training camps over four months in cities across the country, Nike held its final camp of the year at the company’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., last week. “The Opening” was culmination of the camp series, featuring the top 162 performers from the prior events.
While there were a number of noteworthy performances turned in during the three days of competition, none were more impressive than the blazing 40-yard dash times turned in by Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake wide receiver George Campbell.
“It really surprised me,” Campbell, a junior, said. “4.37 (in the afternoon on grass) and 4.36 (in the morning on turf) — that’s something big. I was running a 4.4 and a 4.48, so that’s kind of crazy to drop down that far. But it just showed I’ve been putting in my work.”
That effort was also evident in his 37-inch vertical. That explosive leaping ability made the 6-foot-3, 185-pound pass-catcher an even bigger target for quarterbacks. Despite those head-turning statistics the Sunshine State star focused just as much on the aspects of his performance that disappointed him.
“I think my main thing I need to work on is the power ball (toss),” Campbell said. “I didn’t have a good one at all. 33 (feet) wasn’t good for me. Coming off a wrist injury I’m trying to improve and get it better.”
Much of that drive for growth comes from within, but Campbell definitely gets an external nudge from teammate and good friend Artavis Scott. The friendly rivalry between the two wideouts was certainly on display during their time in Oregon.
“We were battling hard, pushing each other, but once he saw I was on top he had to give me the respect,” Campbell said with a smile. “He knew once I did my 40 time he had to give me some respect.”
Scott, a four-star senior who at one time had Michigan among his favorites, committed to Clemson while in Beaverton. That obviously gives the Tigers added appeal with Campbell. That said, the Wolverines also have an accent to their intense pursuit of another Campbell teammate, 2014 offensive line commitment Mason Cole.
“Me and Tay grew up together ever since we were little kids, so we’re like brothers and we have a close bond,” Campbell said. “So it’s kind of a big impact what he chooses, but at the same time I have to do what’s best for me and choose my school for me.
“I get a text from Mason a lot just saying ‘Go Blue.’ I think he is one of those types of kids that he’s not too big on (recruiting), but at the same time, he is. He’s (just) more laid back with his recruitment.”
Many of the Wolverines’ other commitments are much less reserved in their courtship efforts.
“(Grand Rapids Christian wide receiver) Drake Harris, (Detroit Country Day wide receiver) Moe Ways — as matter of fact (Richmond, Va., Collegiate quarterback) Wilton (Speight) just texted me,” Campbell reported. ‘He just asked me, ‘Let’s race at the barbecue’ — so he’s trying to get me up there.”
“(Making it up to the barbecue) is my plan if everything goes well” Campbell added. “I’m planning to get up there.”
Meet the Mayor
If that trip is anything like his first visit to Ann Arbor earlier this year, he’ll have an extremely good time. Campbell grew to be so comfortable on campus he earned a nickname.
“I’m the ‘Mayor’ of Michigan. We were just up there and I started hanging out with the coaches, and five minutes later I’m with every player from Michigan. I was just roaming around doing my own thing, and everybody liked me, so I think I became the Mayor that way.”
One of visit’s chief benefits was the opportunity for more face time with the Michigan coaching staff. It furthered his bond with the Maize & Blue brass, especially with would-be position coach Jeff Hecklinski.
“You have to vibe with all the coaches,” Campbell said. “They’re all good. That’s a good coaching staff, and they all put in the work there to help get top players to Michigan. I would say all those coaches are good, but I have to say out of all of them, I’d give my shout-outs to Coach Heck. He’s coming hard right now.”
One of the topics likely to be covered at length during Campbell’s visit later this month is the look of Michigan’s offense.
“I’m still looking (at) them throwing the ball,” Campbell said. “Coming out of last year they had Denard (Robinson) at quarterback and they had to run the ball a lot, but I know with Wilton coming in and with Devin Gardner, they have to throw the ball out to the receivers. I just want to see what they’re going to do with the ball.”
That will be one of many factors for Campbell who at the moment insists he has no favorites among impressive offer sheet that includes Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, and Notre Dame.
“I’m just going to keep looking and keep all my options open,” he said. “Pretty much every school gets a chance with me.”
“(The most significant decision factors) for me will just be academics, the environment, (and) the coaches. I want to get put with a coach that’s going to make me better; and not just a better athlete, better student, but also a better man growing up, and who’s just going to help me get to the next level.”
One non-factor is distance.
“My parents said no matter where I go, it’s my choice,” Campbell said. “They pretty much put it on me and said, ‘It’s your choice, you have to play there. So it’s whatever I want to do.”
Figuring that will take time. More time, in fact, than it took his aforementioned teammates to make their respective decisions.
“I think I’ll wait a little bit longer (than Cole and Scott),” said Campbell. “I would say senior year. I’ll try to narrow it down then, and get everything right.”
Sam Webb is managing editor of GoBlueWolverine.com and co-host of the "Michigan Insider" morning show weekdays on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA. His Michigan recruiting column appears every week at detroitnews.com. For more on U-M recruiting, visit michigan.scout.com.