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Campbell enters senior season as top tier punter

Punter Tyler Campbell has established himself as one of the premier college football punters during his career at Ole Miss. He's now entering his senior season, where he hopes to continue his success and potentially win the prestigious Ray Guy Award.
File Photo/Alex Edwards/The Daily Mississippian

 

Despite only seeing the field a few times a game, Ole Miss’ senior punter Tyler Campbell is one of the most important players on the team. While special teams may not receive the glory like offense and defense do, Campbell knows it is still an important part of the game.

“In the mindset of just the general game, everyone knows it is important,” Campbell said. “It is a third of the game — offense, defense and special teams.”

Punting a football may seem simple, but being a punter is no easy task, especially when they are called upon only a few times a game and are expected to perform on the spot. So Campbell and his kicking teammates go through training just like any other player would.

“We do all the strength and conditioning work the players do in the summer,” Campbell said. “The whole team does it together. As far as the season goes, during the week we are working mainly on game plan and execution. So we go out and get repetitions and try to get as consistent as we can for Saturday.”

Getting into the sport was never an issue for Campbell, who began his football career like most kids, in junior high.

“I started playing in seventh grade,” he said. “Every little boy wants to play football, and seventh grade is when my school started so I just started playing.”

Even though Campbell has made great strides as a punter today, he was not always limited to what he did on the field.

“Actually in seventh grade I was a running back,” Campbell said. “It just so happened we all lined up and I kicked the ball the furthest, so I became the punter that way. In high school I also played linebacker and punted.”

Campbell knew, however, that for his career to continue he would need to focus on his kicking game, so he did, and eventually found himself at Ole Miss.

“I realized punting would be my best option to pursue a career,” Campbell said. “I wasn’t going to go anywhere playing linebacker, and I just realized that punting would be my best option."

It didn’t take long for Campbell to find his niche on the Rebel football team as a freshman in 2009. 

“I came (to Ole Miss) on my visit when coach (Houston) Nutt invited me, and I just loved the atmosphere and everything about it.”

In his first season in red and blue, Campbell was named to the SEC All-Freshman team by the SEC coaches after being the No. 2 punter in the SEC and No. 12 in the NCAA with a 43.95 yards per punt average.

Things only got better for Campbell in his sophomore season, where he led the NCAA in punting (46.37 ypp). He became the 19th NCAA statistical individual champion in Ole Miss history. Campbell was also able to have 19 punts over 50 yards, including five punts of 60 or more yards during his sophomore campaign.

Now Campbell is entering his final season as a Rebel and is looking to continue the success he has had so far. Campbell was named to the preseason Ray Guy Award watch list this year, which is awarded to the NCAA’s top punter of the year. He also gained recognition when he was named to the third team for the All-Southeastern Conference Coaches’ Preseason Football Team.

“It is an honor going into the season,” Campbell said. “But I’ve got to back it up on Saturday’s this year and the big honor will be being there at the end of the season.”

Even though he's known for his foot, Campbell is not ruling out the possibility of playing other positions.

“I hope so,” Campbell said in response to being asked if he will ever throw or run. “We’ll see what we can come up with this year.”