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SCSU's Campbell, Smalls Looking to Emerge as Ford's Backup
Anthony Campbell and Kenneth Smalls fit the description of what type of player new South Carolina State running backs coach Danny Lewis wants to see.
Both last saw significant playing time in high school, yet remain hungry and eager to finally prove themselves as worthy of contributing after spending last season on the scout team. Each player is also motivated by a sense of urgency as the clock ticks down on their collegiate eligibility.
“I’m fortunate to have a coach like coach Buddy Pough to give me an opportunity to play my last season here and just to be a part of this and just see the future, try to play and compete with some of these guys in the MEAC and try to be the best at South Carolina State and move on and do great things,” Campbell said.
“I know I got talent,” said Smalls, who last played football as a junior at James Island High School and briefly attended Alabama State. “I don’t need to waste my talent. I might as well get it in while I’m young and be the best that I can be. Instead of sitting down when I’m old and saying I should have done this and should have done that, just go ahead and knock it down. Because at the end of the day, I’m an athlete.”
They, along with running back hopefuls like Orangeburg-Wilkinson graduate Zachary Middleton, will get their first opportunity during spring drills to impress the new position coach during a 10 a.m. scrimmage at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.
“You always want a hungry bunch,” Lewis said. “You want guys with chips on their shoulders, something to prove. Hey, I belong here. It’s a great opportunity to get in front of the other coaches as well.
“Tomorrow I’m looking for effort and who’s just getting after it. Who wants to show up on Saturday? What do they say? The eye in the sky don’t lie? Who wants to show up? Who has something to prove?”
Campbell has faced an uphill battle for playing time throughout his collegiate career. As a freshman on the undefeated University of Auburn team in 2004, Campbell arrived at the same time of future NFL first-round selections Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams.
The arrival of University of South Carolina transfer running back Kenny Irons forced Campbell to move to defensive back the following season. Arriving at SCSU, he once again found himself trying to break into a lineup which featured Will Ford, Travil Jamison, Jonathan Woods and Evans Capers.
With Ford and Jamison the lone returning running backs with playing experience for the Bulldogs, Campbell will not let anyone get in the way of playing time. That includes incoming freshman running back Chris Merrill of Hillcrest, who’s expected to be in attendance for today’s scrimmage.
“The way I look at it, I won’t let a young guy come in and take my job,” Campbell said. “But I will show him the ropes. I will teach him whatever he needs to know. But as far as him coming in, I don’t mind him competing for a job or whatever. But I just don’t see a young guy coming in, a freshman, taking my job. If that happens, then I don’t deserve to be playing.”
As anxious as Lewis is to see what the non-established running backs offer, he also hopes to maximize the potential he sees in Ford.
“Will’s a guy that’s established here and he can lead by example, but he is by no means polished,” Lewis said. “He can get a lot better, so he can’t rest on his laurels. The way we approached things in the past means nothing.”
With two more scrimmages before the April 19 Spring Game, the Bulldogs will get a full gauge as to where their backfield stands entering the fall.
“It’s just something to look forward to as far as being a situation like this because all of the coaches want to see what we’re going to do in the spring game,” Campbell said. “You’ve got other people like the city of Orangeburg that wants to see how good the football team is going to be. We’re just make it happen and just play to the best of our ability and do what we do.”
Campbell, Smalls looking to emerge as Ford’s backup
By Thomas Grant Jr., T& Senior Sports Writer