Hartman: U lineman overcame poor grades, injuries

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 1, 2013 - 6:37 AM

Josh Campion was recruited by the Gophers not once, but twice, and has turned into a durable blocker.

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?

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  • Josh Campion and other Gophers players were greeted by enthusiastic fans after upsetting Nebraska 34-23 at TCF Bank Stadium.

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