AKRON, Ohio -- Want to know how Parris Campbell Jr. (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) plays the game? Try watching a hummingbird in flight.
Neither seems to move straight forward at any one time, yet both get to their destination well before anyone else expects them to.
Such is the life of Campbell, who has already juked and jived his way to 10 touchdowns this season.
Seven have come on the ground, two via punt return and one on a kickoff.
“Every week he comes out here, he seems to get better,” St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Dan Boarman said after watching Campbell chew up 178 yards and score two touchdowns on 15 carries. “Instead of a 15-yard gain it’s a touchdown. Instead of a 5-yard gain, it’s 20. It’s just the simple things.”
The Ohio State commitment and future athlete for the Buckeyes does the simple things by taking your average play before shaking it up and finishing in the end zone.
It isn’t about following the script so much for Campbell as it is reaching the destination. It’s not uncommon to see the 6-foot, 184-pound senior take a handoff in motion, start in the middle of the field, race down the right sideline, cut to the middle, jet to the left sideline and finish back up between the hash marks en route to a score.
He did it last week against Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney in a scene that has become commonplace for the Fighting Irish.
“He’s an amazing athlete,” St. Vincent-St. Mary quarterback Vince Bushner said. “He’s just a freak of an athlete. When the passing game isn’t going, we just hand it to him and he just takes over.”
That has worked for the Irish, who are 4-0 this season after being led by Campbell last season to a Division III state championship.
To date, Campbell has rushed for 348 yards on 36 carries -- a 9.7 yards per carry average. His track speed -- he has already won four individual or state relay championships and runs a 4.41 40-yard dash -- makes things look easy.
But it’s his field vision that sets him apart.
“I’m a speed back pretty much,” Campbell said. “I like to add in a couple cuts at times, but for the most part it’s speed. I see stuff pretty quickly. When I see stuff, I take it and I take it pretty hard.
“I’m looking for holes, but No. 1 I’m looking for my blockers. Wherever they go, I go. I make the cuts I see. The holes definitely go to the blockers, though. Without them I’m nothing special.”
But Campbell really is something special and that showed last year in the state final. Urban Meyer and much of his coaching staff were on hand to watch his teammate Dante Booker Jr. perform at outside linebacker. Booker had a great game, but Campbell stole the show with a 168-yard, three-touchdown performance.
Nine weeks later Campbell had an offer from the Buckeyes and was part of the 2014 class.
Since then, the ESPN 300 athlete -- he’s ranked 291st -- has continued to impress. He earned his spot in The Opening at an NFTC camp in Columbus, Ohio and wowed the crowd by reaching the finals of the 40-yard dash in Oregon. The fact he’s in his adolescence in terms of football experience has many, like Boarman, anticipating a bright future.
“He’s still a young kid. Remember, he’s only 16 years old and just 16,” Boarman said. “He’s as old as some sophomores. He makes things happen that probably wouldn’t happen.”