Devon Campbell wasn’t happy.
He loved the aggression and see-ball-hit-ball mentality he could freely play with as a defensive lineman at Arlington Bowie High School. So he was miffed as to why Vols head coach Danny DeArman wanted to move him to the offensive line last season.
“I didn’t agree with that decision so I kind of got into it with Coach DeArman about it,” Campbell said. “He just told me to trust his decision and that he knew what he was talking about.”
Clearly, Coach DeArman knew what he was talking about.
Since transitioning to offensive tackle, Campbell has become one of the premiere offensive line recruits in the country for 2022. So much so, in fact, that 247Sports’ Composite ranking has him rated as a five-star prospect, the No. 1 offensive guard in the country and No. 7 player nationally.
Not bad for having only played on the offensive line for one season.
As for that aggression Campbell feared he’d lose with the position switch?
“So I trusted him and then when the game came, I took all of that aggression from a defensive lineman and took it to offense,” he said. “When I pull I try to knock over the defender and stay up; that’s the motor I’ve always had.
“Once we started pulling, I was like, ‘OK, I can get used to this.’ I’ve been knocking people over ever since; I get my guy and then go up to the safety and get him so my running back can keep running.”
Colleges started to take notice of how well the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Campbell could move his feet, pull and level the opposition. The offers started to flood in.
Texas, LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Houston, Kansas, Miami, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Penn State, SMU, TCU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulsa and Illinois State have all thrown their hat in the ring.
“It’s been a shocker,” said Campbell, who has committed to playing in the Under Armour All-America Game. “I expected it, but I didn’t expect it to be this early. I didn’t expect to have these offers until my senior year. Coming into high school I didn’t have any thoughts of being recruited as a sophomore or a junior.”
Campbell is so early in the process, still, that he hasn’t begun to narrow things down to a manageable number of schools to focus in on.
“I’m just letting everything flow,” he said. “I think I’ll come up with a decision my senior year.”
Of course, that could change as they so often do in the blink of an eye in recruiting.
Whenever he does ultimately make that decision, he’ll have one request from the jump: getting to wear No. 52 in honor of his grandmother, Lydia Porter; it’s the year she was born.
“Her and my mom [Candace Murray] really raised me,” Campbell said. “She always stayed on me, taught me how to treat women. Without her, I probably wouldn’t be here. We actually stayed with her pretty much my whole life.”
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