When Parris Campbell saw the story, he felt insulted.
NFL.com recently posted an article listing the 18 players it considered to be the fastest in college football. Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield was No. 1, largely on the strength of a school-record time in the 60-meter dash running for the Buckeyes track team this spring.
Campbell didn’t take issue with Sheffield being No. 1. The H-back doesn’t claim he’s faster than Sheffield, although he doesn’t concede that he’s slower, either.
But to not make the list at all …
“It bothered me a lot,” Campbell said Friday night at the Ohio State football team’s job fair at Ohio Stadium. “I can’t even lie.”
In response, Campbell participated in a video produced by the OSU program that showcases his speed. He ran a 40-yard dash, and the handheld stopwatch read 4.26 seconds.
“The video Ohio State put out took some thought,” Campbell said. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it or not at first. But I was offended. I was definitely offended.”
His fellow receivers understood why.
“I definitely feel he should be in consideration" as the fastest college player, senior Terry McLaurin said. “When you’re at Ohio State, you want to be considered the best everything. When a lot of your skill set is based on your speed, and they don’t consider you one of the fastest guys in the country, you would take that personally.”
The NFL.com snub aside, Campbell’s speed has never been in question. His skills as a pass-catcher have been. The senior was a running back at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. At times as a Buckeye, he has looked like a converted running back while struggling with drops.
“My biggest thing was my focus and being able to lock in and look the ball in with my eyes,” Campbell said. “You never catch with (just) your hands. You catch with your eyes. Me playing running back, I never knew that or understood that. I think I’ve made tremendous strides.”
Campbell and the rest of the Ohio State receivers resolved to catch 10,000 balls apiece in the offseason. Campbell estimates that he’s already close to 3,000, mostly from the Jugs machine.
“That number might seem a little crazy to a lot of people, but we’re making progress, he said. “Ball skills is something every receiver in our room needs to improve on. I think we’re taking a huge step in doing that.”
Campbell caught 40 passes for a team-leading 584 yards last year. With all the receivers in the Buckeyes’ 2017 rotation returning in 2018, it’s unlikely that one will put up huge numbers.
But coach Urban Meyer expects Campbell’s final season to be a superb one.
“He’s an elite person and an elite worker,” Meyer said. “Very, very talented. So I expect him to be exceptional.”
With Meyer giving Dwayne Haskins Jr. the nod to be the starting quarterback entering training camp following Joe Burrow’s transfer to LSU, the biggest question of Ohio State’s offseason has been answered.
“It’s hard when you have multiple quarterbacks trying to get into a rhythm,” Campbell said. “Knowing he’s the guy makes it a lot easier.”