Coach sees ex-Cass Tech star Jayru Campbell as Power Five receiver

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Jayru Campbell

Life has been good for Jayru Campbell at Garden City Community College.

It seems Campbell has found a home, at least for now, at Garden City, Kansas. It’s a long way from his hometown in Detroit, where he led Cass Tech to consecutive state championships before getting in trouble on numerous occasions, once for an altercation with a school security officer his junior year, then another one involving an incident with his girlfriend his senior year.

Before his troubles, Campbell received scholarship offers from such national powers as Alabama, Michigan State and Notre Dame.

Garden City CC second-year coach Jeff Sims believes Campbell could be headed to a Power Five school next year – but as a receiver, not quarterback, the position he played so well at Cass Tech.

Campbell has played a major role in helping Garden City’s turnaround from 3-8 a year ago to the program’s first 5-0 start since 2000.

“He’s doing fantastic for us,” said Sims of Campbell. “He played quarterback and took us off to a 2-0 start and played very well. Then, we had Dwayne Lawson transfer in (from Virginia Tech). He was a top-30 quarterback in high school. We gave him an opportunity and moved Jayru to wideout so both could play.”

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In Garden City’s 43-0 win over Butler CC last week, Lawson was benched for missing curfew, Sims said.

But instead of moving Campbell back to quarterback, Sims promoted his third-string signal-caller, Peyton Huslig, and left Campbell at receiver.

“We brought in Jayru and said, ‘You’re the second-best quarterback in the conference but we feel like we’re a better football team if you stay at wide receiver and let our third-string quarterback start,’” Sims said. “Jayru said, ‘Coach, all I want to do it win.’

Campbell responded with a team-high seven catches and 76 receiving yards.

“If Jayru had said he wanted to be the starting quarterback, I would have started him,” Sims said.

So it seems Campbell is growing up.

“I would say Jayru during the first two weeks he was here (last year) he had a couple of issues, nothing major, just transition issues, but since then Jayru hasn’t been any problem whatsoever and he’s a team leader, a great guy who has busted his tail school-wise,” Sims said. “He’s just done a really good job.”

Garden City defeated Hutchinson 16-14 on Sept. 17 with Campbell grabbing a 52-yard pass from Lawson to avenge a 49-14 loss from a year ago.

On the season Campbell has completed 18-of-28 passes (64.3 percent) for 210 yards and two TD, with one interception. As a receiver he has nine catches for 134 yards but has not yet scored.

Sims said Campbell has been contacted by a few Division 1 schools. Sims was recruiting coordinator at Florida Atlantic from 2012-13, then director of player personnel at Indiana in 2014.

“Illinois was here a couple of weeks ago,” said Sims. “In my opinion Jayru can play Division 1 quarterback and be a good player, but he’s an impact wide receiver, and I’m talking at the Power Five level.

“First off, he’s 6-foot-5 and he has natural hands. He doesn’t always catch it the right way, he just always catches it, and he’s extremely competitive.”