Watch live: Detroit Police Chief James White details fatal shooting of Porter Burks

Jayru Campbell, with new lease on life, dreams of NFL career

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Jayru Campbell in action for Garden City Community College.

Jayru Campbell has tossed aside his troubled past from his days at Detroit Cass Tech.

Campbell, the former star quarterback at Cass Tech and a one-time Michigan State commit, is a receiver for Garden City (Kansas) Community College, which has gone from 3-8 last season to 9-0 this year heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale against Fort Scott (Kansas) CC.

More importantly, he understands the significance of the second chance he is getting in college.

“In high school I wasn’t really the type of person who went to school every day and stayed on top of my work, and now I know if I want to actually get to where I want to be, I have to do those things,” Campbell told The Detroit News. “Going through what I went through in high school to where I’m at now, I know it’s all about football and school – pretty much this is what it’s all about and the reason I’m here. I have a 3.1 grade-point average and I’m taking things one day at a time, working hard.

“My dream is to one day play in the NFL. I know I can play Division 1 football, but I’m not worried about that now. I’m trying to lock in and focus on trying to get that win Saturday against Fort Scott so we have a chance to win the national championship.”

While at Cass Tech, Campbell had an altercation with a security guard his junior year, then an incident with his girlfriend as a senior, and spent some time in jail. Before his troubles, Campbell received scholarship offers from national powers such as Alabama and Notre Dame, in addition to Michigan State, where he originally seemed headed.

At Garden City CC, Campbell made the move from quarterback to receiver early in the season and hasn’t looked back.

Campbell had six receptions for 73 yards in a 35-0 rout of Iowa Central last Saturday, hauling in a 27-yard toss to set up a score for a 14-0 cushion, then grabbing an 8-yard TD pass to open up a 20-0 third-quarter lead. For the season Campbell has 20 catches for 314 yards and three TD.

“I really didn’t know how to feel about it when it first happened because I had never stopped playing quarterback since I was little,” said the 6-foot-4 Campbell, who threw for 240 yards and five TDs as a freshman for Cass Tech in a 49-13 state championship game rout of Detroit Catholic Central five years ago. “Once I made the move I just worked hard on trying to improve. I know the mechanics of receiver. I’m an athlete and it’s all about preparing and I know my route running now. I just go and get the ball and try to make something happen.”

Campbell feels good about his decision to come to the Kansas school after his troubles in Detroit.

Garden City CC head coach Jeff Sims is pleased with Campbell’s work both on the field and in the classroom. He said Campbell hasn’t received a Division 1 offer yet, but feels he will get the attention in the upcoming weeks.

Sims should know, since he guided Fort Scott to the national title game in 2009 when they were less than a minute away from winning the national title, ultimately losing to Blinn College and Cam Newton.

Sims moved on to Indiana, where he was an assistant coach for the Hoosiers before taking over the Garden City program after the 2014 season.

Jayru Campbell, playing for Detroit Cass Tech.

“We only had 18 players when I took the job over, but we knew there’s a way to do this and kept working the model and eventually it kicked in,” said Sims of going from 3-8 to 9-0. “One of the reasons we’re successful is because we recruit kids from Michigan and Ohio while a lot of other junior colleges are pretty much strictly recruiting southern states like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

“Jayru has played well for us. He hasn’t had an offer yet because he was quarterback, but once we start practicing for that bowl game (junior college national championship game), most Division 1 teams aren’t playing and a lot of coaches will be coming over to practice, and they’ll have the opportunity to evaluate him and he’ll be highly represented.”

Sims said some former Michigan high school players now on Garden City’s team already have offers, including former Cass Tech linebacker Delshawn Phillips, an Arizona commit; former Belleville player Arlington Hambright, a left tackle who has offers from Houston and Memphis; and Lansing Sexton’s Rayshawn Wilborn, a linebacker who has an offer from Charlotte.

“I’m not worried about the recruiting right now,” Campbell said. “I know I’ll be put in a good predicament as far as what school I’ll play at next year and that school will be happy with me.

“I feel like I can play anywhere, at any position – that’s just how I think. Whatever they want me to do, wherever they want me to play, I’ll compete and do the best that I can.”