Overlooked 5-foot-7 WR Ryan Campbell of Timber Creek is big man on football field | Commentary

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Most recruiters told former Edgewater High running back Craig Rucker he was too small to play college football when he was a senior in 2015-16.

At 5-foot-7, 155 pounds, Rucker was overlooked by most major colleges. The determined Rucker, however, did not let it get him down and remained steadfast in pursuit of his goal.

Ryan Campbell is the same way.

The Timber Creek senior receiver, who is also 5-foot-7 and weighs 160 pounds, is one of the best receivers in Central Florida. He never drops a ball, his route running is seamless, and once he gets the ball, much like Rucker, look out. His hips are shifty and his feet are fast.

OK, so Campbell says it’s 5-foot-7 “and a half.”

Nonetheless, there are no college scholarships so far for the diminutive standout, but, like Rucker, he does not let it dissuade him.

“It’s always been a thing in my head, but after a while it’s like ... whatever,” Campbell said. “My speed helps a lot and so since I’ve got that, if I can just get in the weight room and get a little bit bigger I’ll be fine.”

His frame isn’t exactly small beyond his height. He fills out all of his 5-feet, 7-inches. His speed is definitely part of him that really stands out after his ability to catch the ball, whether in traffic or wide open.

What really is notable about Campbell is his toughness. A defender better hit him hard if he’s expected to bring Campbell down on first contact. He fights for every yard he gets and even breaks tackles quite often.

Rucker was also overlooked, but his dynamic play — and his speed — were too good to overlook and he did eventually get offers from several lower-level Football Bowl Subdivision programs. He signed with Utah State, but that didn’t work out when he was denied admission due to test scores at the 11th hour, so he wound up at Mars Hill.

At Mars Hill, Rucker became an all-American and in four seasons he set the South Atlantic Conference and Mars Hill records for career touchdown receptions with 43 and career receiving yards at 4,320. Rucker is also the all-time Mars Hill leader in career receptions with 294.

And they said Rucker was too small to play college football. He did end his college career 20 pounds heavier at 175, but he never grew any taller. In January, the supposedly Ιtoo-little Rucker signed a contract with the Toronto Argnauts of the Canadian Football League.

Campbell also doesn’t let the lack of attention get to him. He doesn’t complain. He lets his performances do his talking.

Last year Campbell had 37 catches for 508 yards and 8 touchdowns in 10 games. In Thursday night’s spring game against Lake Nona, Campbell caught all seven of his targets for 76 yards and a touchdown. He’s a versatile athlete, who also is on the Timber Creek track team and runs the 100 meters (10.8 seconds personal best) plus the 100-meter relay and also long-jumps with a best of 22 feet, 10 inches.

He said he may get a little irritated by the recruiting process, but he’ll always have his grades to fall back on. He has a 4.6 GPA and a 24 ACT score, and the Ivy League is always an option.

“It can get a little frustrating, but I’ll be fine,” Campbell said. “Columbia has been texting me, and also St. Olaf and Williams,” Campbell said.

So he waits, and meanwhile he’ll try to help lead his squad to its first district title. The Wolves fell short last year, losing to West Orange in the district title game.

And Coach Jim Buckridge is just happy to have him one more season at Timber Creek.

“I’m happy with Campbell, and he’s only been out here since Monday since he was with the track team,” Buckridge said. “Good player, good hands, good speed, he’s physical ... he’s as good an athlete as you see anywhere around. He’s just small. He’s got the total package, but he’s just not big.

“I do think he’s going to be able to help somebody somewhere. He’s a great student. He’s a top-notch kid. We’ll do a lot of things with him this year. He’ll do very well. He’s a good, good player. We’re sending his stuff out.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting