Saturday, May 24, 2014
Campanaro goes from Ravens fan to player
By Jamison Hensley
Growing up, wide receiver Michael Campanaro went to all of the Baltimore Ravens' playoff games, cheering on Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Jamal Lewis.
But Campanaro and the rest of his family had written off any chance of getting drafted by the Ravens toward the end of this year's sixth round, when the team used its last pick on quarterback Keith Wenning.
"My girlfriend is a huge Ravens fan, so she started talking crap about the Ravens," Campanaro said. "She was sitting with my mom, and she was like, ‘I can’t believe the Ravens didn’t [pick you].'"
Imagine the surprise when the Ravens traded a 2015 sixth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to acquire a seventh-round pick this year and selected Campanaro.
The Ravens have never drafted a Baltimore player in their 19-year history, so this is as close as they've come in taking a hometown prospect. Campanaro played at River Hill High School in Columbia, Maryland, which is 23 miles from M&T Bank Stadium.
Campanaro's family, like most of that area, is split down the middle with fans for the Ravens and the Washington Redskins.
"I think after the draft, it’s 100 percent Ravens," Campanaro said.
Where Campanaro won over the Ravens was in a pre-draft workout. They put him and another wide receiver prospect through some intense drills and made them run every single route imaginable.
Campanaro took every single rep, while the other receiver pulled up midway through with a hamstring injury.
"It was impressive," assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. "In my mind, that sort of tilted the scales a little bit to him really being considered to be a good prospect for us. And it seems like every year, we’re always looking at these slot receivers on other teams, and their really good guys are always sixth-round picks, seventh-round picks, undrafted free agents who develop. And we think Mike can be one of those guys. We’re excited about him.”
Campanaro is looking to make the Ravens as their fifth receiver and backup returner. At Wake Forest, he finished as the school's all-time leader in receptions (229) and ranked third in career receiving yards (2,506).
He's already hitting the playbook to learn as much as he can about the Ravens' offense. Campanaro is also taking notes from Steve Smith, one of the best slot receivers over the past decade.
"[When] I go out there and I’m with the receivers, Steve and I are definitely the smallest, shortest guys there," said Campanaro, who is 5 feet 9, 192 pounds. "He is a Hall of Fame receiver. He’s gotten it done for so many years. So, having a guy like that who I can learn from him and see the little things he does preparing with his game, it’s going to help out a ton.”