Get Familiar: Jayru Campbell
December, 5, 2011
By Jon Mahoney | ESPN.com
The Cass Tech (Detroit) football team wanted to forget all about last season.
In the 2010 Division 1 state semifinals, the Technicians had the ball inside the Lake Orion (Mich.) 10-yard line trailing 24-21 with under a minute to play. But Lake Orion forced a fumble to clinch the game and end Cass Tech’s season at 12-1.
This season, the Technicians brought back a squad loaded with senior talent, led by Terry Richardson, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Ruben Lile and Laron Taylor. So naturally there were high hopes for a state crown.
Those hopes took a hit in the season opener against Harrison (Farmington, Mich.) when senior quarterback Kevin Biscoe went down with a season-ending knee injury in the third quarter. In stepped freshman quarterback Jayru Campbell.
But the Technicians didn’t take a step back with Campbell at the helm. The precocious youngster led Cass Tech to a 6-3 mark during the regular season and a spot in the Division 1 playoffs.
And it was during the postseason when Campbell really stepped it up, especially in the Division 1 state final, when he tied a state finals record with five touchdown passes in a 49-13 victory over Detroit Catholic Central (Novi, Mich.). It was the first state title for the Technicians, who finished 11-3.
“I never thought a freshman quarterback would lead us to state title,” says Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher. “I knew he was good — I just didn’t think he’d be leading us this year.”
Get Familiar with this burgeoning young signal-caller.
ESPNHS: How did it feel to go in as the starting quarterback during the first game of the season?
Campbell: I was pretty nervous, but I felt like we had nothing to lose. I just tried to make something happen. We were just playing for pride at that point. Terry Richardson, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Ruben Lile and Laron Taylor told me I had to lead them to a state title and they didn’t want to leave high school without one. Coach Wilcher told me not to try to put the whole team on my back — just control the offense.
ESPNHS: How much support did you receive from Biscoe?
Campbell: He’s a real good guy. He was there all season next to me and supported me. He stayed with the team, worked with me and helped me out.
ESPNHS: How confident were you going into the state final?
Campbell: All week, Royce Jenkins-Stone said we were going to have trouble holding them, which surprised me because we have one of the best defenses in the state. He said if I just got them 14 points, we’d be OK. I took that as motivation.
ESPNHS: How’d it feel to tie the state record for touchdown passes in that game?
Campbell: I have to give a lot of credit to my line. We have one of the best defenses in the country, but we also have one of the best offensive lines in the country. They put in a lot of work. I felt like I could make a sandwich back there before they came and got me.
ESPNHS: What did it mean to you to lead Cass Tech to its first state title?
Campbell: Not only did we win a state championship, we accomplished something for the city of Detroit. We did it — this isn’t a dream and we didn’t let anybody down. I’m just real thankful to be in this position right now. I have to thank God, my mom, my dad and my brother.
ESPNHS: What did this season teach you about your game?
Campbell: It just tells me I can’t relax. This offseason, I’ve got to put in a lot of work. I’ve won one state championship, but why settle for that? A lot of people doubted us this year. Some people thought we’d lose in the first round. Hopefully we’ll prove people wrong again.
School: Cass Tech (Detroit)
Athlete: Andre Johnson
School Subject: Math
Team: Green Bay Packers
Jon Mahoney covers football for ESPNHS.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know which high school football player he should Get Familiar with.