The Gophers’ offensive line is one of the strongest units of this year’s football team, as shown by their No. 4 ranking in the Big Ten with 217.8 rushing yards per game going into Saturday’s contest at Indiana.
One of the standouts of that line is 6-5, 326-pound right tackle Josh Campion. Considering all of the problems he has gone through, it’s a miracle the Fergus Falls, Minn., native is playing for the Gophers.
Campion was an all-state player coming out of high school in 2009 when he committed to Minnesota, but poor academics at the time meant Campion had to take another route to play here. That’s also the reason why Campion is now a 23-year-old redshirt sophomore who could still be playing here when he’s 25.
“I didn’t qualify academically right away to get to the University of Minnesota,” he said. “So I went to Fork Union Military Academy out in Fork Union, Virginia. I got my grades right and I came back.”
Then the Gophers recruited him again.
“I got an offer from Coach [Tim] Brewster when I was a sophomore [in high school], right after my sophomore year going into my junior summer, I committed right away,” he said. “I knew that Minnesota was the place that I wanted to be. I had to go out and get my grades back up, and then Coach [Jerry] Kill was on staff here at Minnesota and he offered me as well.”
When Campion got to Minnesota, he suffered a concussion and was redshirted. So his first official season as a Gopher was in 2012 as a 22-year-old redshirt freshman.
Campion recognizes his age doesn’t quite mesh with his football eligibility. He said he will receive his degree in business marketing and education this spring.
“I’m a sophomore football-wise,” he said.
Campion was one of two offensive lineman, along with guard Zac Epping, to start all 13 games last year. He’s started all eight games this season, too.
Campion was asked whether he prefers to run block or pass block.
“I like the run more to be honest, that’s just my nature,” he said. “But I think it’s equal, and I think you have to be equal to be able to play the game.”
Does Campion — since he’s been recruited to Minnesota twice — believe Kill’s sabbatical to focus on his treatments for epilepsy are taking away from his ability to recruit?
“Coach Kill is great,” he said. “He taught me, and he’s still teaching me to be a man about things. If you mess up, you own up and you move on. If I were to [talk to] a recruit, I would say the first thing would be Coach Kill’s loyalty and his respect for us as a player. He’s done so much for me, and even with things off the field, I see him do stuff for other people. He’s very loyal and very honest. Being from Fergus Falls, it’s more of a country feel up there, and having that quality that Coach Kill gives us is just great. I think a lot of people respect that, along with myself.”
Puzzling Vikings ‘D’
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway was asked how a defense can been good enough to help compile a 10-6 record last year and not be able to get off the field on third down and have a 1-6 record so far this year.
“It’s not different in what we’re doing — and that’s maybe the harder thing to understand is why are we playing a certain way,” he said. “Teams are making plays on us on third down, and we have an inability to stop them right now and that’s really the biggest difference.”
How difficult it will be to play against Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in Dallas this Sunday?
“They’re tough down there,” Greenway said. “Tony plays great in that building. They have an explosive offense and we have a lot of weapons to stop and slow down. We have to get off the field though, and let the offense work.”
• Under University of Minnesota rules, according to Gophers associate athletic director David Benedict, the athletic department must reserve 10,000 student football tickets for every game. That means selling out TCF Bank Stadium is difficult with the lack of student interest in Gophers football, so an effort is being made to cut down the number of tickets reserved for students.
• Great move by the Gophers athletic department in scheduling a two-game hockey series with North Dakota during the 2016-2017 season. This rivalry goes back to when John Mariucci was coaching the Gophers and Clifford “Fido” Purpur was at North Dakota, and playing each other was the highlight of the season for the two schools.
• Nobody is more injury plagued than former Vikings receiver Sidney Rice, now with the Seattle Seahawks. After playing in seven games and catching 15 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns, Rice was placed on the injured reserve list after suffering a torn ACL last Sunday against the Rams.
• The Indiana Hoosiers defense is struggling with the same thing as the Vikings — not being able to get off the field on third down. Indiana is last in the Big Ten in scoring defense [37.1 points per game] and total defense [498.1 yards per game]. “Look at the number of the last couple of games on third downs that we got that we [haven’t gotten opponents] off the field,” Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson said at his news conference this week. “Michigan State made — what was it? — eight, nine, 10 in a row? … You gotta make a play.” … The Hoosiers offense, though, is as good as the defense is bad. They are tied for second in the Big Ten in scoring offense (42.4 ppg) and are second in total offense (514 ypg). Maybe that’s why Las Vegas has the over/under for this game sitting at right around 66 points.
• Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio on Kevin Love’s game-tying three-pointer that sent the Wolves and Magic into overtime and eventually resulted in a 120-115 victory Wednesday: “We believed we can win, and we had a chance and we didn’t want to lose that chance. Kevin executed the play perfect.” … Love’s 31 points and 17 rebounds were his 19th career game with 30-plus points and 15-plus rebounds. Since Love joined the league in 2008, only Dwight Howard has more with 23.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com