Oct. 7, 2001
ATLANTA – Standing 5-foot, 11-inches and weighing 180 pounds, some people may have a hard time viewing record-setting senior wide receiver Kelly Campbell as a bully on the football field. Most opposing defensive backs are not among that group.
“Sometimes defenders think they can push me around because they feel like I’m small and I’m not strong enough to block or get off press coverage,” says Campbell, an Atlanta native. “I think by now most of the defenders have seen me and now that I’m just not a little push over. Defenders may have thought that when I first came here. Now that they have seen me play in previous years, I don’t think that they feel that way.”
“For some reason this year, I’m having more fun blocking, just going in there and hitting somebody,” adds Campbell. “That’s my biggest thing, just going out there and showing the defenders that they can’t push me around. Just because I’m small doesn’t mean I’m not going to be tough and physical and aggressive. I know that I’m going to get a lot of double coverage this year, so I’m focusing on doing the other things right, as far as blocking and other little things.”
In addition to proving that he cannot be pushed around a football field, Campbell has also shown the world that he is a spectacular pass-catching talent, rewriting the Tech record book in the process. The two-time All-ACC selection already ranks as the Yellow Jackets all-time leader in receiving yards with 2,570 and touchdowns with 23. With six catches for 58 yards against Duke on Saturday, Campbell needs just two grabs to eclipse the mark for all-time receptions currently held by Harvey Middleton. He ranks eighth in ACC history in career receiving yards, as well as 10th in touchdowns and 17th in receptions.
On the season, Campbell leads Tech with 25 catches for 371 yards and two scores.
Campbell certainly appreciates the fact that his name will go down in Tech history, but he is still focused on the task at hand. “I feel blessed to have the opportunity to break all the Georgia Tech records,” Campbell says. “I try not to focus too much on that, but on what I have to do on the football field. When things like that come, I’m very excited and very grateful that my name will be in the record books at Georgia Tech.”
As mentioned, Campbell, who ranks fifth in Tech history with 3,696 career all-purpose yards, has been forced to hear about his perceived lack of size throughout his career. This has only served as a motivating factor and a catalyst for Campbell’s success.
“I’m the type of the person that when people tell me what I can’t do or I’m too small to do, I am motivated to work harder,” says Campbell. “I can let everybody know that it’s not the size that makes a person get the job done. It’s about the heart and dedication. I try to prove to people that you can do it as long as you work hard at it. Don’t listen to what people are saying.”
Campbell is also quick to point to his time in the weight room and the coaching staff, specifically receivers coach David Kelly, as huge part of his record-setting career.
“We have very good coaches,” Campbell says. “They do a really good job of teaching me techniques and getting me ready. We have good coaches in the weight room who have helped me get stronger and bigger. The weight room has been very important in me being a complete receiver, because I had to get bigger and stronger so that I could take on bigger guys. As far as technique, Coach Kelly has done a great job of teaching me little things like catching the ball, getting off press coverage and running crisper routes.”
Motivation and a great coaching staff have certainly given Campbell a solid formula for achievement, but thanks to his mother, Belinda Campbell, he was well on his way to successful life long before he caught his first pass in gold and white.
“I don’t know what I’d be doing right now if it wasn’t for my mom,” says Campbell, who was named the most valuable player of the Kickoff Classic following Tech’s win over Syracuse on August 26. “She has done a very good job of keeping my head up and letting me know that I can go on and be whatever I want to be. She’s a minister, so she’s always going to tell me to put God first in everything that I do. She has done a very good job of raising me, bringing me up and pushing me in the right direction. She’s always there for me talking about life and football.”
With a strong family support system, a sense of motivation and a top-notch coaching staff, Campbell seems like a sure bet to succeed at the next level. However, the self-proclaimed comedian has a back up plan if that doesn’t work out.
“I know how to bring people up or how to make them laugh or smile. I’m just a gregarious person,” says Campbell. “If football doesn’t work out, maybe I’ll try acting.”
“Coach O’Leary thinks his jokes are better than mine, so we have a competitiveness to see who has the best jokes,” Campbell adds jokingly. “I think I can go into comedy and make a living at that too.”
But if the last four years are any indication, it’s unlikely Kelly Campbell will have to quit his day job any time soon.