The lowdown: A chess piece for Urban Meyer’s and Ryan Day’s offense, Campbell broke out as a junior in a hybrid role. Campbell was effective returning kickoffs, taking handoffs and catching the football. That role became more streamlined in 2018 as he spent more time as a wide receiver, but watching him proves to be an interesting study. Despite eventually running a 4.31 40-yard dash at the combine, Campbell was not used extensively as a vertical receiver in that offense.
Campbell instead was used in the slot, in motion and even in the backfield as an underneath option more often, running horizontal routes and screens, where his burst, open-field vision and acceleration were extremely hard to defend. Watch him dart through a talented Michigan defense on this short catch, turning it into a long gain, which should give you an idea of how he was utilized (2:18 mark):
It’s hard not to compare Campbell, style-wise, to former Ohio State weapon Curtis Samuel, who played the same position for the Buckeyes, or even a slightly less explosive and physical version of Percy Harvin, who was the original inspiration for the role Campbell played in Meyer’s system.
Campbell has worked hard on his hands (drops plagued him early in his career) and route running under the tutelage of former NFL receiver Brian Hartline and has an upward trajectory in these departments. If Campbell can continue working on his ability to win downfield – not just with his speed but with his ball-tracking ability – he could be a special weapon in an NFL offense.
Fun fact: Campbell was a little-known recruit who wasn’t blazing the recruiting trails when he took the field to help his high school try to win a state title as a junior. At halftime, Campbell was having a big game and he caught wind of some breaking news from former Ohio State cornerback Doran Grant: Urban Meyer was a fan of his game. After halftime, an energized Campbell scored his third TD of the game and his team won the state title. Shortly thereafter, he committed to the Buckeyes.