Campbell to take shot at kick-starting Hoosiers

Indiana faces questions on offense and defense this fall, particularly at quarterback and linebacker.

Don’t forget about special teams, either.

With the graduation of two-time Bakken-Anderson Big Ten Kicker of the Year Griffin Oakes, the Hoosiers are in need of a new go-to specialist.

Enter Charles Campbell.

The U.S. Army All-American is aiming to win IU’s kicking job as a true freshman, arriving in Bloomington this summer as the program’s first scholarship freshman kicker since Mitch Ewald in 2009. Besides the scholarship, nothing is guaranteed to Campbell.

But the newcomer is looking to make an early impression with his new coaches.

“Going into fall camp, I definitely want to start,” Campbell said. “I want to be the clear cut No. 1 guy. I know I have to go out and beat some great kickers. That’s pretty much my goal coming in.”

There are five walk-on kickers listed on IU’s roster, none of whom have seen the field for the Hoosiers. Only redshirt sophomore Jared Smolar, a Valparaiso native who kicked off in three games for Rutgers in 2016, has played in a college game.

After struggling through his junior season, Oakes re-established himself as one of the Big Ten’s top kickers as a senior last fall, converting 16 of his 17 field goal attempts and 38 of his 39 extra point tries. Both of his misses were blocked.

Now, Indiana is hoping Campbell will be ready to compete for the starting job come August.

“Big need for us,” IU coach Tom Allen said, “but he’s going to have to come and compete. I told him that from the very beginning. We’ve got quality kickers here on campus that want the same job that he wants.”

Considered the No. 5 kicker nationally by Rivals, Campbell connected on six of his 13 field goal attempts and 36 of his 39 point-after attempts last season at University School in Jackson, Tenn.

Appearing in the 2018 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Campbell booted the opening kickoff before missing a 25-yard field goal early in the first quarter.

He rebounded with a 32-yard field goal that accounted for the game’s first points for the West squad.

“I need to work on technique,” Campbell said. “I need to visualize myself in situations. If I have a game-winning kick, I need to visualize myself in practice kicking the game-winning kick.”

Helping Campbell is the presence of long snapper Dan Godsil and holder Drew Conrad, a pair of steady specialists leading IU’s special teams unit.

“It makes a huge difference,” Campbell said of Godsil and Conrad. “I know having them both start last year and having them both know what they’re doing, they’re not going to be nervous. I’m just stepping in.”

Since taking over the IU program at the end of the 2016 season, Allen has emphasized a renewed focus on special teams work with the Hoosiers.

He brought in scholarship punter Haydon Whitehead prior to the 2017 season and took advantage of the NCAA’s new rule allowing a 10th on-field assistant coach by shifting former linebackers coach William Inge into a newly-created position as special teams coach.

Now, Allen and the Hoosiers are hoping Campbell is ready to work toward winning the job with a strong fall camp.

“My first week, I can tell that everyone works together and everyone wants to get better,” Campbell said. “That’s probably what we’re emphasizing with the team the most. Everybody comes in here and wants to work.”

7 comments

  1. Very nice mop. He has my ’70s hair….(except for the much higher hairline). That baby will recede faster than the tide. He’ll be balding by 28. Is he wearing bell-bottoms?
    Damn…At first I thought you broke that photo out of some very old archives. Army kid in a Hoosier uniform conjures up thoughts of ‘A Few Good Men.’ But it’s not the Marines….Maybe a ‘code red’ means an onside kick is coming…? You can’t handle the truth!

  2. H4H, throwback comments are in good taste and fun to read. Campball has a lot of work to do to become IU’s FG kicker as he has tough competition for the spot. He has a good leg but will need to improve his accuracy which he has video of drills that shows he is working on already. I like that IU is going after top kickers and bringing them in instead of just hoping a walk on is good enough.

    It will be fun to see what changes coach Inge brings to the special teams in 2018.

  3. Is that a mis-print or am I missing something? “Campbell connected on six of his 13 field goal attempts and 36 of his 39 point-after attempts last season at University School.” I’m sorry, but unless most of the field goals he attempted were over 40 yards, making only “six of 13” attempts is not very good! How did he make HS All American?

  4. His h.s. totals over four seasons is 60% (23/38)….It doesn’t seem earth-shattering. But I do like the hair…Maybe it got in his eyes sometimes?

  5. PO- you read my mind. Maybe some of the missed FG’s were blocked? He was the “US Army” All-American. Some other kid was probably the US Navy All-American, and another kid was the US Air Force All-American, and another was the US Coast Guard All-American, and some other was the National Guard All-American, and then there’s the lad who was the Dick’s Sporting Goods All-American, and then . . . .

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