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Posted on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 : 11:15 a.m.

Greg Mattison tells BTN that Michigan senior DT Will Campbell 'has to be' the leader up front in 2012

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan senior defensive lineman Will Campbell "has to be" a leader next season, UM defensive coordinator Greg Mattison says.

Melanie Maxwell |

All spring, Michigan football coach Brady Hoke sung the praises of senior defensive tackle Will Campbell, explaining how far he's come on and off the field.

Hoke was hopeful Campbell would be able to fill a leadership role next fall for the Wolverines.

Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, meanwhile, seems a bit more than hopeful.

"Will (Campbell) has to be (a leader on the defensive line)," Mattison said in a recent interview with the Big Ten Network's Tom Dienhart. " If you don’t have someone right in the middle of that defensive line and ‘backers and safeties, then you are gonna have a problem. Will has done everything we ask him to do to try to prepare to be the best.

"He’s one of the hardest working guys we have had this summer. We are excited about what he’s doing."

The 6-foot-5, 322-pound Campbell -- a player who has largely underachieved during the first three years of his career -- was a focal point of both Hoke and Mattison all spring.

Both for his production on the field and his willingness to organize position group meetings and drills away from it.

Campbell's productive offseason hit a snag, though, after he was arrested in April for sliding across the hood of a car and bringing about a felony and misdemeanor charge for malicious destruction of property.

The senior defensive lineman eventually pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge and agreed to pay $2,100 as a penalty. Throughout the entire process, Hoke maintained his status with the Michigan football team had not changed -- meaning he's still very much a member of the program.

A former five-star recruit out of Cass Tech High School, Campbell has 19 tackles in three seasons.

Meanwhile, in his interview with BTN, Mattison targeted Jordan Kovacs and Blake Countess as players to watch in the secondary. He also labeled newly-transitioned defensive end Brennen Beyer and freshman linebacker Joe Bolden as a pair of potential surprises next season.

"(Beyer) has worked very hard on his strength," Mattison said. "He feels more natural there because that’s more what he did in high school. He won’t have to worry about dropping into coverage. He’s a young man you could see some big things from.

"(Linebacker) Joe Bolden is another. He came in at mid-term as a freshman. He has an opportunity to help the defense very quickly."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Fri, Jun 29, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

Will seems like a nice gentle guy; if he had any meanness in him we'd have seen it by now. Quinton Washington and Richard Ash are both 300 plus pound guys. Both were 4 star recruits. Someone will step up at DT. They can't all be big teddy Bears.


Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

Wouldn't it be great if Will Campbell reached his potential this year?


Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

Will Campbell can do this. It is my belief that if Will has the desire he will be successful. Some players require special handling and this just might be the case with Will. Bo knew which players needed what and Bo was fine with that according to his book quotations. Come on Big Guy, you can do this if you want to.


Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

With the loss of Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen, Campbell absolutely must step up big this season. Otherwise, the defense is going to have problems. Even if Quinton Washington can play OK and the freshman Pipkins is as good as advertised, there's no substitute for having a big, experienced senior in the middle. Big Will this is your time!


Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 4:45 a.m.

I don't see it happening. He just does not seem to have the desire to play football.


Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

No question that the DL, and especially DT will make or break this season for UM. I have full confidence that the LB's and secondary will perform well, and our offense should be able to put points on the board. Even the special teams look dependable. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for Big Will. I would also like to see Pipkins develop quickly as depth is crucial in the trenches. I am encouraged that the coaches are singing Wills praises...let's hope it's more than just a positive spin on an area of concern for them.


Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

I don't think he can just turn it on......I mean he has done nothing so far, he just seems disinterested......


Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

observer, you might be right, I hope your wrong.


Wed, Jun 27, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

I believe the big problem with Will is he is just not motivated. If he is interested in a career in the NFL, it is in his best interest to produce this year. I hope he has decided that he must do the job everyone expected him to do. This guy should be knocking people all over the field, not getting pushed around. Get with the program Will.

Terry Star21

Wed, Jun 27, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

As hopeful as I am, I too have a few doubts - but I hope Will proves us all wrong. Things have changed positively with big Will these last 6 months, as reports are coming from camp. Mattison is for sure the right person to light a fire under Will and kept him motivated - Will is definitely a key figure on this years defense. MgoBlueForTiM....Big Will like a Mack truck pushing foes backward.

Terry Star21

Wed, Jun 27, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

PS...if you have seen Will lately, you will be amazed at how physically good he looks. He has worked extremely hard on not only the big things, but all the minor details and we can be grateful for our fantastic coaching staff.


Wed, Jun 27, 2012 : 6:41 p.m.

If there is a position on this team that worries me, this is it, hands down. I hope Will can bring it, but I have not seen anything from him so far.


Wed, Jun 27, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

Will is the only legit experienced DT on the team. Black is woefully undersized for DT and Breyer needs 20 lbs to play DE. If Will is not consistent, Michigan will give up a ton of rushing yards.