Jayru Campbell gets 'fresh start' at Kansas college

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Jayru Campbell, playing for Detroit Cass Tech.

Former Detroit Cass Tech star quarterback Jayru Campbell has accepted a scholarship to play football for Garden City Community College in Kansas.

Campbell signed a letter of intent with the school on Friday.

Campbell led Cass Tech to consecutive state championships his freshman and sophomore years and committed to Michigan State.

He got into trouble with the law his junior year for assaulting a school security officer and landed in jail, serving a 60-day sentence. He was released and sent back to jail after pushing an ex-girlfriend at Cass Tech.

He did not play football his senior year, and in November pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence.

First-year Garden City CC head coach Jeff Sims decided to give Campbell another chance.

"I worked with a legendary junior college head coach named Bill Fisk, who played at USC and was my mentor," Sims said. "He once told me, 'If not us, then who?' If you can get a kid corrected, you'll do it in football, and that's what we're supposed to do as coaches and educators."

Sims said it's generally one of three reasons that a kid will decide to play for Garden City CC.

"First, they're underrated and believe they are Division 1 players," he said. "Second, they are Division 1 players, but academically they didn't qualify for one reason or another. And, lastly, they're Division 1 players and socially they made some sort of mistake. It's our job to turn all their lives around and correct that mistake to make them a better person and player.

"We have a very strong grasp of giving kids a lot of structure and expectations and we expect them to live up to it. You can either embrace it or fight it, and I expect Jayru will embrace it."

Sims said all of his players are up early, lifting weights or attending classes. They are required to attend study hall and make curfew.

"We'll give Jayru the tools to graduate from college and make him the best football player he can be," Sims said. "If he uses those tools he'll graduate and have a list of colleges he can play at the next level."

Sims is an experienced junior college head coach. He guided Fort Scott to a 32-12 record from 2007-10, earning a No. 1 national ranking by the Sporting News in 2009 before losing to Cam Newton and Blinn College in the NJCAA national championship game.

Two of Sims' players have been NFL All-Pros in recent years, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David, who was just a two-star recruit coming out of high school. Fifty-one of his players at Fort Scott moved on to play Division 1 football.

Sims coached under Fisk -- who played on USC's national championship team in 1962 -- at Mt. San Antonio College in 1999-2000. He was also an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida Atlantic from 2012-13 and the director of player personnel at Indiana last season.

Garden City CC coach Jeff Sims on Jayru Campbell: "We’ll give Jayru the tools to graduate from college and make him the best football player he can be."

When asked if he knew about Campbell's talent on the field, Sims replied: "No, just his off-the-field situation. I know he's tall, 6-foot-5, long and athletic. His on-the-field evaluation will take about five minutes. And, for our program it doesn't count what you did before."

Campbell wasn't allowed to return to Cass Tech after an incident last fall involving his girlfriend.

"He's doing what he needs to do and he'll be ready to go by fall," Sims said about Campbell completing his high school coursework to graduate. "He's a kid from Detroit who is going to school in Garden City, Kansas. People in Detroit are asking him questions all the time. He has a fresh start here. He'll be treated like a college student."