Neal Brown knows a thing or two about playing wide receiver at a high level.
He played the position at Kentucky and UMass and coached it at several stops in the mid-2000s, including at Troy. He also still holds the all-time receptions record at his high school in Danville, Kentucky.
So when West Virginia’s first-year head coach directed superlative praise at wide receiver George Campbell this week, it was meaningful.
“George has made as much improvement at the receiver position from July until now of anybody I’ve ever coached,” Brown said.
Campbell is certainly benefitting from a fresh start. The graduate transfer has set new career highs in receptions and yards this season, while also leading the Mountaineers in receiving touchdowns with six.
During his three seasons at Florida State, Campbell failed to log a single touchdown, and struggled to stay on the field due to a string of injuries. Now that he’s healthy, he’s reaching his potential.
“That kid’s dealt with a lot of injuries in his career, and that’s really the first time he’s had a full offseason and season to continually get reps and get better,” said co-offensive coordinator Matt Moore. “He can really run, and he’s a big guy, and that’s hard to cover when you get that guy downfield.”
Brown has called Campbell’s breakout season an “evolution.” The Florida native has become a reliable target for the Mountaineers and has scored on nearly 50 percent of his receptions.
As he evolved this season, so did his teammates, as his leadership among the WVU receiving corps is unmatched.
“We’re starting to play really quality football there [at that position]. They’re playing better away from the ball,” Brown said. “That’s a credit to [wide receivers coach] Xavier Dye. He’s done a great job with that group. But also, George Campbell has been a really calming influence. His evolution here during the season has kind of mirrored that whole entire room. It has really gone from a weakness to a strength.”
Brown has noted countless times that many seniors on the WVU roster, including Campbell, are playing the best football of their careers right now. If Campbell is remembered as the team’s leader in touchdowns this season, that will be great, but he hopes his legacy in Morgantown stretches beyond the field.
“I just wanna leave a mark, not just as a player, but as a person — somebody that was a leader, impacted this team and did everything the right way,” Campbell said. “I think that’s the thing for the team. We’ve got a lot of guys that do things the right way. They’re always willing to work, and everybody trusts Coach Brown, so I just want to be one of those guys that leaves his impact not just on the football field, but in the building and around Morgantown.”