|08-06-2007, 09:48 PM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Arcadia, CA
Calais big hit with 'Canes
Calais big hit with 'Canes
South's Campbell plunges into stardom at Miami with father's help
By John Henderson
Denver Post Sports Writer
Article Last Updated: 08/06/2007 01:18:27 AM MDT
Coral Gables, Fla. - Calais Campbell was just a little kid and had barely learned how to swim when he took his cocky swagger up the long ladder of the high dive. "I'm going to show my dad I can dive off this," he said to himself.
When he reached the top, he might as well have reached the top of the Qwest building. His tone changed from "I am God!" to "Oh, my God!" He started to climb back down. He never made it. He was met by his father.
"Once you start something," Chuck Campbell told him, "you have to finish."
Calais, as he always did, obeyed his father. He climbed back up and leaped right off.
"I'm glad he made me jump," he says today. "Now I realize I can't really go through life scared. Once I start something, I have to fight my way through and find a way to do it."
This explains why this once tall, gangly kid from Denver's South High School has developed into arguably the best college defensive lineman in the nation. His name is sprinkled through all the football magazines as a preseason All-American and a leader of a defense that rarely withered under the frightful collapse of Miami Hurricanes football.
But neither his impressive numbers, nor his towering 6-foot-8, 280-pound presence, tell the story that began with a long, scary dive into the unknown. They don't tell how he stayed at South through turmoil no high school athlete should endure. They don't show the snippet from the Hurricanes' brawl with Florida International in which Campbell plays peacekeeper with fists flying around him. They don't show his transcript that has him set to graduate at season's end, a semester ahead of schedule.
They don't show how he landed in that pool.
Calais Campbell is sitting in Dan Marino's Fine Food & Spirits across U.S. 1 from Miami's campus. He's wearing a camouflage T-shirt reading "Canes On Patrol," a souvenir from his police ride to build rapport among the police, team and community. His hair is braided and pulled up in a little bob. You wonder if it hurts to wear a helmet. Not that it matters. He hasn't cut it in a year.
"Me and a couple teammates made a pact that we wouldn't cut it until we won a championship," Campbell says. "But I think I'm the only one still standing."
If Miami does matter again after last season's 7-6 pratfall, Campbell will be a huge reason. His 10 1/2 sacks and 20 1/2 tackles for a loss made him all-Atlantic Coast Conference and team MVP, an astonishing feat for a sophomore defensive end.
"He was as disruptive a football player as we played against," says Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, who watched Campbell get three sacks against the Hokies. "You can talk talent and great pass rusher and good against the run, but when you start labeling with 'disruptive,' it puts him on another plateau."
It wasn't always this way. The greatest sack artist in Colorado prep history had to mount a steep learning curve when he landed at Miami. He stood 6-8, but played 6-3. Randy Shannon, Miami's new head coach and Campbell's former defensive coordinator, remembers one particularly pitiful defensive drill.
Shannon stopped practice.
"I said, 'Calais, just run upfield,"' Shannon says. "'You can touch China, as long as your arms are. You've got to use them. You just can't run into people and not use those long arms. You touch him, he still probably can only reach to your wrist."'
Once he got it down, Campbell became almost unstoppable. He had sacks in seven consecutive games last year and dismantled North Carolina with 14 tackles (including nine solo and four for a loss), a sack, three quarterback pressures, two deflected passes and a forced fumble.
"The big thing is having confidence," Campbell says between bites of baked mahi mahi. "Once you lose your confidence you'll start second-guessing yourself, second-guessing your moves. But the biggest thing about sacks is effort. Usually, you don't get a sack on your first move. It's always second effort."
Campbell's chest appears as broad as the booth he's sitting in. However, his strength hasn't caught up with his size. He almost apologizes for bench-pressing only 315 pounds. His little brother sitting next to him, true freshman safety Jared, does 285. Calais' true strength, he says, comes from inside his head. But it's not his voice. It's his father's.
"He was always telling me: 'Come on, Calais. Push it,"' Calais says. "'You have to be hungry. You have to play harder. Pick it up a notch. You can do better. You have more in you.' When I'm in the games now, I hear him inside my head, telling me: 'You've got to give more. You can dominate a game."'
Adds Miami guard Derrick Morse, a three-year starter, about Campbell's strengths: "Two things - his work ethic and attitude. He's always going. He's got a motor. Especially from an offensive lineman's point of view, he's good from one move to another move."
The accolades could fill an NFL scouting report. In fact, they have. But Shannon, a former Dallas Cowboys linebacker, has a different read. Asked what he admires more, Campbell's ability or his character, Shannon doesn't hesitate.
"His character," he says. "He's so humble: 'Calais, I need you to see these kids.' 'Calais, I need you to host this kid, take him out.' 'OK, Coach, no problem.' He's that kind of person."
He's the type of person Shannon needs. The Miami native has fought against his beloved alma mater's bad-boy image for years, but all his work backfired last Oct. 14 when Florida International and Miami engaged in a bench-clearing fight. The game was called early, 28 players were suspended and two FIU players were booted. Worse, the film clip was shown almost hourly from coast to coast the following week. However, it took a keen eye to see Miami's No. 81 holding back his own players and reasoning with FIU's players in the middle of the brawl.
"The whole time I didn't know what was going on behind me, who was getting beat up," Campbell says. "I see a couple of FIU guys and I was like, 'Calm down! Calm down! We're out here to play football. We're not out here to fight.' One or two of the guys said, 'Yeah, I'm with you."'
It was not the first time Calais Campbell fought the good fight.
Father knows best
Campbell, only a high school freshman, was sent off the practice field before the gun was pulled. He never saw the incident. To this day, he doesn't exactly know why it happened, but according to witnesses, South coach Harold Johnson tried to fire offensive coordinator Herman White and angry assistants circled Johnson. Steve Johnson, Harold's brother, came out of his car and allegedly pulled a gun on White.
Campbell, a freshman starter on the top-ranked team in the state, definitely knows what happened later. Johnson got fired, and that weekend the Rebels were upset in the first round of the playoffs by Dakota Ridge. When South's administration chose former Evergreen High assistant coach Ryan Mullaney over White, uncle of star running back LenDale White, the black parents were furious.
Mullaney's résumé of six years in the NFL and growing up on Denver's east side didn't hold much street cred for a school where whites were a minority. That all changed when out of the chaos came a calming voice.
Chuck Campbell. He faced down the black parents.
"He said, 'We wouldn't want a white not giving a black person a chance,"' said Mullaney, who runs a debit card business with his brother. "'Let's give this guy a chance."'
Finish what you start
The parents did, but many players didn't. A mass exodus began. White and quarterback Allen Webb transferred to Chatfield. White approached Campbell about doing the same. He said they could carpool all the way to the Littleton school. But White had never seen Campbell jump off the high dive.
"I said, 'I started here,"' Campbell says. "'I'm going to give this guy a chance.' He said: 'You're crazy if you do that. You can come over here and win.' 'I said: 'Dad said this Mullaney is a good guy. Let's give him a chance."'
Sure enough, Chatfield went on to take state the next season. But Campbell blossomed into the most feared pass rusher in Colorado prep annals. Despite only 206 pounds stretched across his 6-7 frame as a junior, with his dad screaming from every sideline, every game, Campbell amassed a state-record 57 career sacks, including 38 his last two seasons.
It wasn't easy for Chuck, a former pole vaulter at Colorado whose five sons all are now playing college football. How hard is it to scream with a faulty liver that desperately needs a transplant? Campbell's father, who worked for Comcast, missed one game. South opened the playoffs against Legacy in Campbell's senior year, and Chuck had spent the day before in a hospital on life support.
"I didn't know how bad it was," Calais Campbell says.
It was worse than he thought. Chuck Campbell died two weeks later, on Thanksgiving. He was 62. Thinking back, Calais puts down his fork and reflects. He doesn't well up. He doesn't lose his voice.
"Everything happens for a reason," he says. "I'm a spiritual person. I believe in God. I felt like my dad lived a good life. We've got a lot to show for it. Everything he did for us can't be in vain."
Campbell did jump off that high dive, didn't he? He didn't quit then. Why now? By the way, did hitting the water hurt?
"Most definitely," he says with a big smile. "I think I belly-flopped. But I realized it wasn't that bad."
Family fit for football
Miami Hurricanes defensive end Calais Campbell is one of five Campbell brothers from the Denver area playing college football.
Raj: Junior wide receiver, 23, graduated from Denver South High School and is attending Adams State after two stints at California junior colleges.
Ciarre: Junior cornerback, 22, graduated from Denver South and is attending Montana after transferring from Colorado State.
Calais: Redshirt junior, 20, all-ACC player at Miami and graduate of Denver South.
Severin: Redshirt freshman linebacker, 19, at Montana backing up two seniors after graduating from Golden High School.
Jared: Freshman safety, 17, above, graduated from Overland High School and is playing with Calais at Miami. Chose the Hurricanes over Washington.
If we didnt address the DE need this year with Moss and Crowder, I would have loved it if we could bring Campbell back home to Denver in next year's draft. Ofcourse, we probably would have to tank the season, but oh well....
Last edited by SoCalBronco; 08-06-2007 at 09:55 PM..
|08-06-2007, 10:45 PM||#3|
"Nemo Me Impune Lacessit"
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Northern California
Until Hawkins starts keeping these guys in state, we'll never be an A level program again. Just a B level program at best, 15-25 ranking at best.
|08-06-2007, 10:49 PM||#4|
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Arcadia, CA
|08-07-2007, 12:07 AM||#6|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: May 2001
Calais was CU's to lose, and they lost him when Barnett and his staff didn't think he was worth an offer.
|08-07-2007, 08:32 PM||#7|
Hey pic Mod!?!?! FU
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: The wrong side of right.
|08-30-2007, 03:57 AM||#8|
Join Date: Aug 2005