Getting to know Tennessee's class of 2007: No. 13, WR Todd Campbell

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Introducing No. 13 in Tennessee’s class of 2007, wide receiver Todd Campbell.

Not to be confused with the Mayor of Burbank, California or the federal judge for the Middle District of Tennessee. Nope. This Todd Campbell:

On the varying hues of blood

Prick Todd Campbell’s finger, and his blood will run Big Blue. Or Black and Gold. Maybe. Or perhaps Orange. Let me explain.

Campbell began his high school football career at Todd Central High School in Elkton, Kentucky, and his father played high school football against current Kentucky Wildcat offensive coordinator Joker Phillips. The two have been friends for years. Yeah, he moved to Franklin, Tennessee as a sophomore, but one year later, Franklin High School hired new head coach, Craig Clayton, who not only was a Hopkinsville, Kentucky transplant but also used to coach current Wildcat Curtis Pulley. It’s probably safe to say that Campbell has a certain affection for Clayton as well because Clayton installed an offensive system designed to showcase Campbell's abilities.

So Campbell’s a Wildcat fan, right?

Um, not necessarily. His mother has a master’s degree from Vanderbilt , and Campbell and Vandy All-American wide receiver Earl Bennett have become friends. Vandy was also the first school to offer Campbell a scholarship, and Campbell has said on more than one occasion that the education he receives in college would be a significant factor in determining which school he chose to attend.

Okay, so then give Vandy the edge.

Not so fast. Campbell’s godfather is none other than former Vol and Tennessee Titan wide receiver Joey Kent, and Kent used to take Campbell to Tennessee spring practice and spring games. In addition, Campbell was a frequent unofficial visitor during the Season of Which We Do Not Speak.

Okay, so that last bit could go either way, but you get the point: Todd Campbell is subject to a variety of competing loyalties.

So which one would win out in a battle for the young man's devotion?  Vanderbilt made the first offer, back in December, 2005. Tennessee got into the game in January, 2006. Many others soon followed, including South Carolina, who wiggled in the door perhaps in part due to having a player on its roster who is the son of Campbell’s father’s college roommate. Small world.

By April, 2006, Campbell had narrowed it down to Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina. Sorry, Kentucky. You were never really in the running despite Campbell’s ties to Joker Phillips and the UK program. No, and on April 5, 2006, Campbell chose Tennessee, not only putting the final nail to Kentucky’s hopes, but dashing those of 11 other schools as well, including Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Alabama, Kansas State, Louisville, and Mississippi State.

Contrary to what you're probably thinking, Joey Kent apparently did not pressure Campbell to don the orange. What he did do (and all he really had to do) was emphasize what Tennessee had to offer: a prestigious program with a history of winning and getting wide receivers into the NFL. In the end, Campbell simply could not say no to coach Trooper Taylor’s contagious enthusiasm, which apparently had a long-lasting effect, because the recruit almost immediately became the recruiter, helping the Vols land Chris Walker, Chris Donald, and Ben Martin, three guys in the top ten of this year's class. That's worth the price of admission right there.

Numbers and other shiny things

As I mentioned earlier, Campbell began his high school career in Elkton, Kentucky. He moved to Franklin, Tennessee as a sophomore and started all season for the 13-1 Franklin HS Rebels until the state championship game when his coach chose to start a senior in Campbell’s stead. When Franklin hired new head coach Craig Clayton the following year, Clayton designed the offense to get Campbell the ball. As a result, Campbell caught 35 passes for 817 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a senior, Campbell had 27 receptions for 439 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver and added 52 yards and one TD by carrying the ball five times. He was all-district and all-state as a junior and third-team all-midstate as a senior.

Rivals awards Campbell three stars, and the UT site says that Rivals had him as the 66th best wide receiver nationally in this year’s class, although it’s no longer on his Rivals profile page. Scout also gives Campbell three stars and bestows upon him a position rank of 72. It’s ESPN’s rating  -- a grade of 80 and a position ranking of 16 -- that puts Campbell just ahead of Darnius Moore in the Rocky Top Talk class ranking.

Many of the articles on Campbell rave about his good hands. He’s also tough, though, and he’s neither afraid to go over the middle nor to use his excellent leaping ability to go up and fight to get the ball. All of this plus his good speed and ability to run after the catch, making defenders miss along the way, mean that Campbell is a big play guy waiting to happen.

Perhaps best of all, Campbell seems to have a maturity seldom found among highly touted recruits:

Recruiting can go to your head quick. You got schools telling you that you are the next this or that. The reality is that I am a regular guy with some raw talent, and Tennessee is the place for me to mold that talent, but I am no better than anyone else. I am just a regular kid like everyone playing high school football. I am just trying to make it in college.

This maturity led him to enroll early, in January, 2007 so that he could participate in spring practice, a move that evidences his desire to reach for any advantage in the upcoming competition to make this season's wide receiver rotation.

Rocky Top Talk Mnemonic

Blue? Black and Gold? Nope.
Campbell in Orange to break
Joey Kent’s records

Todd Campbell, welcome to Tennessee!

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