George Campbell Finds a New Home At WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.VA.–A five-star recruit from Clearwater, Florida, George Campbell was one of the nation’s top prospects in the class of 2015, whittling down his final four schools to powerhouse programs – Florida State, Florida, LSU and Clemson.
He chose the Seminoles and headed to Tallahassee that fall.
“I really liked Florida State. It wasn’t too far from home, and Jimbo Fisher was a great coach,” Campbell recalled of his commitment to FSU. “They recruited me well. When I got there, it felt like family. It felt like a place I could become a good player.”
Predictions of grandeur followed the 6-foot-4, 183-pound receiver to the ‘Noles. He had 18 touchdowns as a senior at Clearwater’s East Lake High School, hauling in 62 receptions that year for 880 yards in leading the Eagles to a 13-1 record and a run to Florida’s Class 7A state semifinals.
Campbell didn’t get caught up in the recruiting hype, though.
“It didn’t mean anything to me – five-star, four-star,” he said. “A lot of people liked to talk it up, but at the end of the day, when you get to college, it’s all about how you play and not about the stars. For me, I never got a big head over any of it. I just wanted to be ready to play football wherever I went.”
Things at FSU started off well enough. He only played occasionally on offense as a true freshman and wound up catching three passes for 42 yards. But he maintained a prominent special teams role, seeing action in 11 of FSU’s 13 games and was named the program’s top special teams newcomer of the year at the end of the season.
But then injuries began to take their toll. He missed all of 2016 and redshirted, and then was limited to four games – two of them starts – in 2017. But two hip injuries and surgery for each took him off the field and also allowed him to play in just seven games in 2018.
“It was very frustrating,” he admitted of his injuries. “You never want to be injured, but at the end of the day, you can’t control that. All you control is how you react to it, and I felt I reacted pretty well. I’m happy to be back to where I’m at now. It feels good.”
At the end of his fourth year at FSU, Campbell had played in 22 games but had just 13 catches for 206 yards with no touchdowns.
With a bachelor’s degree in social science in hand, he decided to look for a fresh start as a graduate transfer at a new college.
“It was very tough,” Campbell said of his choice to leave FSU. “I had built close relationships with my teammates and the coaches at Florida State, so it was a tough decision to leave. But I had to put my big-boy pants on and make a tough decision. It was a choice that affects your life, but my decision come here has worked out great for me.”
The highly-touted receiver had transfer options. Initially it appeared he was going to Penn State, but in May he decided to follow new WVU head coach Neal Brown to West Virginia.
“I just wanted to go to a place that was best for me, and I felt this was the best place for me at the moment,” Campbell stated. “It’s been paying.
“This is further away from home, but it’s not bad. The guys here are like family to me. It’s been good.”
Campbell arrived in Morgantown early in June, and immediately began working with his new teammates.
“The way the guys welcomed me was great,” he said. “It was easy to adapt to everything around here.”
He also found a familiar face in Morgantown. Having grown up in Clearwater on the north side of Tampa, one of the teams he played while at East Lake High was Palmetto, which was 50 miles away on the south side of Tampa Bay. The quarterback for Palmetto was Jack Allison, who started his college career at Miami but after one year with the Hurricanes transferred to West Virginia, where he is now a fourth-year junior.
“Beside being a receiver in high school, I also played d-end,” Campbell recalled.
“When we played Jack’s team, I nearly had him for a sack, but he got away. He likes to joke around with me about that,” chuckled the master’s degree candidate in corporate and organizational communication. “I can’t believe he got away from me.”
Having gone his entire Florida State career without ever finding the end zone, Campbell made up for lost time with the Mountaineers. He caught touchdown passes in each of his first three games with his new team.
“This is exactly what I expected,” Campbell smiled. “When I came in, I expected a lot out of this offense, and we’re showing we can be a good offense.”
The fifth-year senior is not only part of West Virginia’s receiver rotation, but just like at Florida State, he’s turned out to be a very good covering kicks on special teams.
“I’ve always played special teams since coming to college,” he explained. “Special teams can be the difference between winning and losing a game. Making an impact on special teams is important to me.”
One thing Campbell hasn’t done yet year is something some others wouldn’t qualify as a great goal – playing in winter weather.
“I’ve seen snow, but I’ve never played in it,” the Sunshine State native admitted with a sly grin. “If that happens this year, it definitely will be crazy; it will be fun.”