Jayru Campbell was sentenced to 60 days in jail for assaulting a security guard inside Cass Tech on Jan. 22. (Madalyn Ruggiero / Special to The Detroit News)
Detroit — Thomas Wilcher, Jayru Campbell’s football coach at Detroit Cass Tech, was disappointed and in a somber mood Friday. He had just found out Judge Timothy M. Kenny sentenced Campbell to 60 days in jail and 15 months of probation for body slamming a school security guard earlier this year.
“I hoping it would be different,” Wilcher said. “It’s sad. It’s a bad day to see what he has to go through. We’ll work through it. He’ll stay positive. He’ll stay positive in the community. He’ll stay positive in school.”
The jail term begins July 28. It was originally scheduled to begin June 16 but was pushed back because Campbell is expected to attend summer school on June 23.
Campbell has been the starting quarterback at Cass Tech since the second game of his freshman season in 2011. That season, and the following season, Campbell led Cass Tech to the Division 1 title, the first two in school history.
Before this past season Campbell, 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, accepted a scholarship offer by Michigan State. Other top-rated schools, including Alabama, had offered Campbell a scholarship.
This past season Cass Tech lost to Detroit Catholic Central in the semifinals. In that game Campbell was ejected for throwing a punch at an opposing player.
Subsequently, Campbell was suspended from school for three days by school administrators.
The Detroit Public Schools also suspended Campbell for the first game of the upcoming season.
Because of time served Campbell would spend 57 days in jail and would be released on Sept. 23, if he is not released sooner because of good behavior. If he returns to Cass Tech on Sept. 24 he would have missed 16 school days. He would also miss the first four games of the football season and would be eligible to play the following Friday, Sept. 26.
It is highly unlikely the administrators and Wilcher would allow Campbell to play that soon. The Michigan High School Athletic Association does not have a rule stating an individual player must practice a certain amount of days. MHSAA rules, with regards to the number of practice days, only pertain to a team, not an individual.
The first day of practice without full equipment is Aug. 11. The first day of contact drills, with pads, is Aug. 14, and the first day a team is allowed to play is Aug. 28.
To Wilcher these facts are moot. He said football is secondary in Campbell’s life at this point.
“Football is not the most important thing,” Wilcher said. “We are trying to produce a productive young man. He could be a writer, for instance. A teacher. You have a young man who can contribute to society. The most important thing is his life, not football.
“He’ll learn a whole new mentality (in jail). He’ll go in and have to defend his honor. Is 60 days good? Who knows? Will we lose another young man?”
On Jan. 22 inside Cass Tech, Campbell body-slammed the security guard. On May 2 Campbell’s attorney, Jeffrey Edison, entered a plea deal. As part of the plea, Campbell was ordered to attend and participate in psychological counseling and anger management classes. He also ordered to write a letter of apology to the officer in question, which he did on Friday.
Vic Michaels, the director of athletics for the Detroit Catholic schools, was surprised by the jail sentence handed down.
“That’s not fair,” Michaels said. “He’s 17 years old. He goes to Cass Tech. There are tests you have to take to get into Cass Tech. It’s not like any ordinary (Detroit Public) school. That’s not right.”
Wilcher said the healing process will take much longer than the 57 days Campbell will spend in jail.
“It will affect him emotionally,” Wilcher said. “As it would anyone. Once you go through the process that he has gone through, the humiliation, how he got done (in) by the media, it just keeps going.
“I hope there’ll be a healing process. He’s getting tortured all the time. There has to be a process where you heal young man.”
Cass Tech offensive coordinator Dave Malecki said Campbell has displayed a strong mental approach to athletics and he’s confident that mental toughness will carry him through now.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Malecki said. “With what he’s accomplished you have to be mentally tough.”
Malecki said Campbell continues to work out with his teammates, in the weight room and other conditioning drills.