The Caleb Campbell Story: Hope Still Abounds for the Ex-Army Player

Matt JCorrespondent IMay 1, 2010

BALTIMORE - DECEMBER 01:  Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada #10 of the Navy Midshipmen runs the ball against Caleb Campbell #13 of the Army Black Knights during the 108th Army v Navy football game on December 1, 2007 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Caleb Campbell is a name most Detroit fans recognize, but if for whatever reason it doesn't ring a bell then here's a recap of his story.

In April of 2008, Campbell, was featured in an interview piece on Headline News. In the interview, Campbell discussed the Department of the Army's alternative service option plan which would allow him to play in the NFL in 2008.

Campbell was selected in the seventh round, 218th overall, in the 2008 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions. The Lions fans were ecstatic and were chanting his name as it was announced. He received a standing ovation from all fans in attendance at the draft, not just the Lions fans.

In July of 2008, Campbell agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Lions. He never got a chance to sign the contract, due to the Army changing the rules. The following day the Army ordered him to serve his military service time, preventing him from playing football until at least 2010.

During his two years away from football, Campbell joined a bobsled team, and has since added 10 pounds and cut time off his 40 yard dash. He was drafted as a safety out of Army, but numerous reports say he'll play linebacker for the Lions now.

In March of 2010, Campbell signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions. He showed up to rookie training camp on April 29, 2010.

"He's actually faster now than when he was at Army,'' Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "He's smart, he's 6'3", he's 235 pounds, and he runs fast. He didn't forget how to play football in two years.''

When asked about his situation from two years ago, Campbell had this to say:

"It was definitely a confusing time for me. The whole time I was told I could play ball and I was expecting to sign a contract that morning,'' Campbell said. "We were going to have our first practice the next day. I woke up from a nap and my agent told me to get to the stadium. I thought, 'Am I getting cut already?' "

Reporters asked head coach Jim Schwartz the odds of Campbell making the team, and contributing anything. He responded with: "A big part of his evaluation is what he can do on special teams,'' Schwartz said. "You're talking about a guy with that kind of size and that kind of speed who can cover kicks and block on kicks. Even if his development as a linebacker doesn't happen right away, there are still ways for that guy to help our team.''

I see him making the team and playing special teams. It's hard to cut a player with that speed and size who was an ex-safety. I also felt it would be good to note, he would have went in rounds three or four if not for the rumors being spread, that eventually turned out to be true, that he would not be allowed to play until 2010.


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