Coach Joseph Sam: DJ Campbell "fits everything you want" in an OL
The Texas fan base has big aspirations for incoming freshman offensive lineman Devon Campbell. That tends to happen when one is a five-star prospect and plays at a position of need for a program like the Longhorns.
Campbell, who finished the 2022 recruiting cycle ranked No. 14 on the Rivals100, will officially join the Longhorn program on Saturday, and the hope from the Texas fan base is that he can be an immediate contributor for a UT offensive line needing depth and potentially some help among its starting five. According to Arlington Bowie head coach Joseph Sam, Campbell has all the tools to be successful right off the bat.
“Number one, he fits everything you want in an offensive lineman. He’s athletic. He’s obviously a large human, a term I stole from coach (Kyle) Flood. He loves, loves, loves football,” Sam said. “He’s still working out with us, has been at pretty much all of our spring practices just watching. I see him from time to time helping the young O-linemen. The good thing is, he has a good family base – his mom, dad and uncle. His uncle has played college football, so he’s been kind of navigating through the process with his uncle.”
Though he was one of the country’s top overall prospects in the 2022 cycle, Campbell wasn’t one that drew much of a media spotlight throughout his recruitment. He rarely did interviews and did a good job of keeping everyone guessing on where he would wind up before eventually signing with Texas in February. According to Sam, Campbell is the same way on the field and in the locker room, choosing to keep his head down and put in the work without creating a stir.
“He’s a quiet kid that wants to be good. I think that’s the biggest thing – on top of all those other qualities, I think his greatest strength is his competitive spirit,” Sam said. “Usually those who want to be good are the ones that succeed.”
Last year was Sam’s first year at Bowie and while the Volunteers didn’t have the type of year they were hoping for – finishing the season with a 2-8 record – Sam feels Campbell was able to grow as a leader and learned to fight through adversity. That mindset will help Campbell when he gets to Austin, Sam said, as will Campbell’s ability to pinpoint his focus when it comes to playing football.
“I think what makes him so special between w the lines is that he’s like a light switch. He’s quiet, and kind of soft-spoken off the field. On the field, he’s a completely different person,” Sam said. “You can tell there’s something that goes off in his head. The other thing, athletically, when we talk about the total package of offensive linemen, he can play all five positions. The only thing he’d need to work on is snapping.
“I tell a lot of people, even though he’s 6-3, 6-4, there aren’t a lot of 6-3 or 6-4 guys that can not only dunk a basketball, but be first-team all-district, team MVP. On top of all that, he broke the school record in shot put and I think he threw high 150s, low 160s in discus. He was the discus and area champion in shot and discus. That’s hard to do in both.”
Campbell had offers from programs all over the country and flirted with programs like USC and Alabama before eventually settling on a top two of Texas and Oklahoma. In the end, it was the relationship he built with Flood and the other members of the Texas staff that allowed the Longhorns to land Campbell, their highest-rated player in the 2022 class.
“I think what led him to Texas was number one, relationships. I think he was able to build a relationship with coach Flood, coach (Chris) Gilbert and the rest of that staff there. I think that’s number one,” Sam said. “I think number two, comfortability. I think DJ loves coach (Bill) Bedenbaugh at Oklahoma, but I think Lincoln Riley leaving kind of hurt Oklahoma. DJ is a kid, you have to kind of earn his trust. He’s not quick to trust people. And the last thing, he wanted to play high-level caliber college football, but also be somewhere where his family can easily come to his games as well. His uncle is on our staff, his parents live two or three blocks from our school. The drive to Austin is not a bad drive, it’ll be easy for his parents to get there. I think what Texas offers off the field was as well, with alumni base there.”