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Jayru Campbell grateful for new daughter, football memories as NFL dream fades

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Jayru Campbell didn’t hear his name called during the three-day NFL Draft. He didn’t get a free-agent offer either, which means his football career might be over.

Campbell did get a lifetime gift on Saturday with the birth of his daughter, Skye Faith Campbell, which left him loaded with hope and optimism. And he thinks he might get an NFL tryout once things settle down from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jayru Campbell

“There’s been no free-agent offers; the most I’ve heard is that it’s possible I could get a tryout when this virus slips out of here,” Campbell told The News on Monday. “I just put myself in the mindset that this was most likely to happen, especially since I didn’t have a Pro Day and coaches were not able to sit down and really get to know me as a person.”

Campbell finished his college career at Ferris State and hoped to show his ability at Central Michigan’s Pro Day, but that was canceled due to the coronavirus.

Campbell put on his personal Pro Day at Oak Park High School on March 20, but the video could only offer scouts and NFL personnel limited material with no face-to-face interviews.

“I’m just thankful to wake up every day with all the stuff going on,” Campbell said. “I just had a beautiful baby girl that just got here two days ago and I feel blessed. Even if this (NFL tryout) doesn’t work out, I get to tell so many stories about my football years. I’ve done a lot in football, and some people won’t get the chance to do some of the stuff I did.”

Campbell made headlines his freshman year at Detroit Cass Tech, throwing for 240 yards and five TDs in a 49-13 Division 1 state championship game rout of Detroit Catholic Central in 2011.

He led Cass Tech back to the state title game in 2012 and another win over Detroit Catholic Central (36-21) that included an 89-yard TD pass to Jourdan Lewis on a Campbell audible.

Offers from Alabama and Michigan State followed, before a pair of off-field incidents his junior and senior year left him in jail and ended his hopes of a Power Five Conference college career.

Campbell made his share of memories away from the limelight the last few years, earning a National Junior College Championship at Garden City Community College in 2016 and helping Ferris State reach the Division II national title game in 2018, when he earned the Harlon Hill award.

“People speak a lot about my high school, but years before that and after that I was still winning,” Campbell said. “I had fun with it. I enjoyed my time playing the game. I played with some marvelous talent. I got to see a number of people who played with me go on to the NFL and do great things.”

Players like Lewis, who went on to become a first-team All-American cornerback at Michigan, then was a third-round pick of the Cowboys in 2017; and former Garden City CC teammates in cornerback Mike Hughes (2018 Vikings first-round pick) and cornerback Lonnie Johnson (2019 Texans second-round pick).

“If it does come to an end, I’m still thankful for everything that’s happened to me in the game,” Campbell said. “Sure, I might look back and get sad a little bit because that was my dream, that’s what I wanted to do, keep playing football and make it my career and get paid for doing it at a high level. But like I said I’m blessed to even wake up and still live, especially after everything that’s going on in the world.

“I only have one semester left at school and until then I’m doing UberEats and whatever small jobs I can find to take care of my family. I’m hoping to get a good opportunity somewhere, always feeling getting a degree and good grades would pay off some day.”