Greg Mattison tells BTN that Michigan senior DT Will Campbell 'has to be' the leader up front in 2012
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
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."