When a player early in his career shows the ability to score as a runner, a receiver and a kick returner*, the player is an X-Factor.
*I excluded punt returners because their danger can be easily eliminated with a punt out-of-bounds or a rugby style punt.
UB has not developed an X-factor player in years, until now. Devin Campbell could be the next Dri Archer or Tommylee Lewis, but no one in the MAC seems to notice. Lewis was ranked the #12 player in Hustle Belt's Top 50 players of 2014, Archer #2 in 2013, yet Campbell was left off both last year's and this year's top players list. Campbell was recognized by Phil Steele, as the MAC's 1st team kick returner.
Hustle Belt could be excused, as Campbell has been buried behind great talent during his first two years at UB. With the talent gone this year, Campbell will be the primary star supporting Joe Licata.
|MAC Players with Kick Return, Receiving and Rushing TDs in first two seasons, since 2007|
|Player||School||Kick Return TDs||Year||Receiving TDs||Rushing TDs||Total TDs|
|Tommylee Lewis||N Illinois||3||2011-12||5||2||10|
|Eric Williams||Ball State||1||2009-10||2||9||12|
|Antonio Brown||C Mich||1||2007-08||13||1||15|
Campbell broke onto the scene in 2012 with 502 rushing yards in relief of an injured Branden Oliver. The true freshman touched the ball 146 times as a runner, receiver and kick returner, gaining 897 yards (6.14 yards per touch) and scoring 3 times, earning himself the "Fresh Prince" nickname.
Last year, Campbell was moved to receiver, was slightly hampered by injury and was crowded off the field by the emergence of true receivers Fred Lee and Boise Ross. Campbell still managed 890 yards and 3 TDs, but did so MORE efficiently on only 58 touches (15.34 yards per touch).
|First 2 years||Archer||166||1409||8.49||6|
|First 2 years||Campbell||204||1787||8.76||6|
In 2014, Campbell will return to the backfield, where he is a dangerous run/pass option out of the backfield. While Anthone Taylor looks to fill the workhorse role of Branden Oliver, Campbell should make his money as the speedy change of pace back. In 2012, Dri Archer showed the MAC that a game changing X-factor could take a middle of the table team to the top of the MAC. Will Campbell's junior output reach the heights of Archer's junior campaign? Looking at Campbell's team and his opponents, I think he will.
In the 90's, the Fresh Prince left home and moved to California. In 2014, the King of UB running backs moved to California, but fortunately for Bulls fans in this reboot, the Fresh Prince stayed home to take the throne.
(Hey, they rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into a top selling movie in 2014, I think we can reboot The Fresh Prince into a 2014 MAC Championship.)