Coach Mario Cristobal undoubtedly didn’t need large John Campbell to be an afterthought as fall camp was about to open on the University of Miami. And Campbell, who mentioned Thursday he’s enjoying his “heart out,’’ believes he won’t be.
The 6-5, 320-pound fifth-year redshirt junior tackle has persevered through his share of painful times, but after missing all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Campbell is back in a critical role as Miami prepares for the Sept. 3 season opener against Bethune-Cookman. With projected first-round draft pick Zion Nelson still not practicing as he recuperates from arthroscopic knee surgery, Campbell could be the man to protect vaunted quarterback Tyler Van Dyke’s blind side in the opener.
Campbell was asked after practice if coaches have communicated to him what it would mean should Nelson return sooner than later.
“If he comes back, I feel like it’s open competition.,’’ Campbell said. “Everybody is just competing. I’m playing my heart out right now, doing what I have to do for me to be a 1 [starter].”
Is he able to be a swing man if that turns into his function?
“I’ll do whatever Coach wants me to do,’’ Campbell said. “…I’m pretty good. I know this game pretty well. [Offensive line] coach [Alex] Mirabal does a great job in the film room giving the guys knowledge and teaching us ins and outs of plays and schemes and where to be and what to do.
“You never know what the future looks like. I’m just trying to put my best foot forward and do what’s best for my team and best for myself.’’
Cristobal indicated he has plenty of confidence in Campbell, who graduated from Orlando Dr. Phillips High in 2018 as the nation’s 19th best lineman, according to Rivals.com.
“We expect John to be one of the best players in the conference and eventually in the country,’’ Cristobal said of Campbell, who lost 20 pounds that he had gained after surgery. “We think that highly of him because he has a lot of the same physical traits as Zion. To be a great lineman you’ve got to have those traits. You have to have resiliency. No matter what gets thrown at you you’ve got to deal with it and move forward.
“But he has all those physical traits and it’s combined with the intangibles of a guy that can show toughness and resiliency and fight through tough moments and be in tough situation and come through. The position that those guys play, it comes with a lot.’’
That, it does.
About one year ago, Campbell tore the ACL just before fall camp began.
“Before I got hurt I felt like it was the best offseason I had,’’ Campbell said. “I had everything put together. Then, I fell doing some drills. But the injury probably made me stronger, my loved ones pushed me and I’ve come out even better.
“I feel real comfortable at left tackle.”
Campbell was restricted throughout spring, taking part in particular person drills however held out of crew contact conditions. He has began earlier than. As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Campbell made his first profession begin at proper deal with within the season opener towards Florida. He began at left guard towards Louisiana Tech within the Independence Bowl that season.
In 2020, Campbell had 4 begins in his seven video games, all at left deal with.
When Nelson returns, Campbell may swap to proper deal with, which might probably put DJ Scaife again at proper guard, the place he excelled in 2021. Left guard Jalen Rivers, who missed most of final season with main knee surgical procedure, bought near Campbell when the 2 rehabbed collectively. “We’re like two peas in a pod,’’ Campbell said. “Every since he came here he’s been just a great guy. It’s good to have somebody like that next to you, somebody you can trust, somebody you know is going to be in the right spot when you need him to be.
“Our offensive line is real special. I mean up front we got a real experienced line that knows what we’re doing — and we got coaches really pushing us.”
The line consists of veteran middle Jakai Clark.
“We’re going to keep tyler upright,’’ Campbell said. “I’m ready.”
Miami Herald sports activities author Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes soccer beat author since 2000, the season earlier than the Canes received all of it. She has received a number of APSE nationwide writing awards and has lined all the things from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to main marathons to the Olympics.