After redshirt season, Campbell ready to contribute to West Virginia offense
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 07:09
No player enters his first season of college football wanting to redshirt, but after spending a year on the sidelines, redshirt freshman receiver Dante Campbell can see it already paying dividends.
"At the beginning it was really hard," he said. "About midway through the season, I realized that it was the best thing for me to do.
"Honestly, I wasn’t really ready. I didn’t want to waste a year. Every practice, I had to go up against the first team defense like Keith Tandy and all of them. It made me work harder, so when I get a chance to play, I take advantage of it."
Campbell got the chance to take advantage of his opportunities in Saturday’s win against James Madison when senior quarterback Geno Smith called his number on West Virginia’s first drive of the second quarter.
The two connected on a quick slant for a four-yard touchdown, the first of Campbell’s career.
"I was real patient. I had to wait a long time for that," Campbell said. "Everybody has a chance to get the ball in this offense, so you just have to get open."
In an offense featuring two of the nation’s best receivers in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, it’s not hard for some of the younger receivers like Campbell to get overlooked.
The 6-foot-4, 213-pound Clermont, Fla., native knows there won’t be many chances he’ll get to learn from players like Austin and Bailey, so for now, he’s trying to soak up as much as he can from them.
"They’re playmakers, so I can learn from them every game and every practice," Campbell said. "They’re only two receivers, though, and we can have five receivers on the field, so there’s still going to be a chance to get the ball. We just have to learn from them."
Campbell said he’s been able to learn a lot from the two veteran receivers. As an inside receiver in the WVU offense, he’s able to turn to Austin for tips on what he can do to get better at his position.
When he was having troubles early on as a redshirt, he was able to turn to Bailey, another player who sat out for a year before seeing a lot of success when he got his chance.
"I think he’ll be very good as time goes on," Bailey said. "That whole year off, for me, I got to take advantage of trying to bulk up and add some muscle.
"Now they’ve got guys like us to learn from and see how we work the offensive things like that, so I think that will be pretty good in the long run."
Seeing what Austin and Bailey have been able to do and seeing the potential he has in this offense has shown Campbell that he has a chance to be a playmaker in the future.
"They’re going to leave us their job, and we’ll have to take advantage of it," Campbell said. "I’m just trying to have fun while they’re still here and keep learning from them so that, when they do leave, I can step up and take that spot."
For now, he’ll take what he gets in this offense and wait for his time to shine.
He got a good taste last weekend of what it’s like to get to make plays, and now he’s
looking forward to making more.
"I was more shocked that I was wide open; I knew I was going to catch it," Campbell said. "It was the best feeling.
"I’m always going to remember that moment, but I’m hoping that there will be way more to come."