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Relationship with Tennessee, Osovet Standing Out for 2022 FL Edge Rusher Nick Campbell

A look at 2022 defensive end Nicholas Campbell, and how his relationship with Joe Osovet has Tennessee squarely in the mix.

Whiles things may have slowed down in the sports world with the onset of the COVID-19 virus, colleges across the country are still working on recruiting as they can in this slow period. For many fans, the focus is firmly on the recruits in the 2021 cycle. However, coaches are often working on two or three cycles of players at all times. For Tennessee, this can look like identifying priority targets in future classes, players from out of state or that have ties to members of the Tennessee coaching staff. In Lake Minneola, FL defensive end Nicholas Campbell, that is precisely what the Vols have found. Campbell plays in the Orlando area of Florida in 6A, and though he is a 2022 product, he has already been on Tennessee's campus, largely due to the combination of his technique and ties to the Volunteer staff.

Though he is only a rising junior, Campbell already shows the physique expected for a power five defensive lineman, at 6’3” and 240 pounds. Adding weight and strength have been priorities for the Lake Minneola product. Campbell said that he, “Just loves to work. On the field, in the weight room, with his coaches, and with my trainers, I just want to work to get better. They know what it takes.” The, “They,” that Campbell refers to are one of his coaches and his trainer, both of whom have played large parts in shaping Campbell's game and recruitment in unique ways.

First, Campbell trains outside of school with Aaron Jones Jr. at Excel Speed in Orlando. Jones, as Campbell pointed out, was a five-star player in his own right when he came out of high school. Jones went on to play his collegiate career at Florida State, and his additional work with Campbell shows up on film. In his sophomore film, Campbell shows hand placement and usage that many defensive linemen fail to grasp at the college level. This kind of next-level technique shows not only his commitment to work on the finer points of his game or good coaching, but it also shows a polish at the position beyond his years. That polish comes in part to his work with Jones. “I work with Coach [Jones] about four days a week. Some days we work on speed and really focus on that. On getting faster and conditioning. Other days we really focus on technique and things I can use in games.” When asked about a couple of moves that show up often on his film, Campbell said, “My swim move was one of the first moves I really got. I go to it a lot, but it helps me get to the quarterback.” I pointed out that Campbell often attacked the inside shoulder of offensive tackles, something unusual for most defensive ends. “You have to show them that you have speed early. You really attack the outside shoulder and try to work them with speed. Then, once they see that, they jump back quick, try to set deep, that’s when you hit the inside shoulder because they open up a lane to the quarterback.” The other move Campbell regularly shows on film is his rip. “You got to have a rip. It helps you finish everything off. When you set up a lineman, play the read, whatever, that rip is your last move to get by a guy.” Campbell's technique and relentless motor make him a nightmare for opposing offenses. He regularly makes plays after he has been engaged, often with multiple blockers. Even as a sophomore, he shows the explosion to attack tackles, the technique to shed them, and the relentless motor to chase a ball carrier down and keep coming until the whistle. 

That impressive sophomore tape landed on the desk of Tennessee's new tight ends coach, Joe Osovet. That does spark the question, how did Osovet, an offensive coach known for his offensive RPO innovation and recruiting ties to the northeast wind up with Campbell's film? That can be credited to one of Campbell's coaches at Lake Minneola, another former Seminole, Chad Mavety. Mavety signed with the Seminoles in the 2014 recruiting class as a four-star offensive tackle. Mavety was one of the highest-rated JUCO prospects in the nation when he signed with Florida State out of Nassau Community College in New York. Nassau Community College, where one Joe Osovet was the head coach and offensive coordinator. Fast forward to the Fall of 2019, and Mavety, now a coach at Lake Minneola, sends the film of his sophomore defensive lineman to his old coach in Knoxville. Osovet quickly worked to set up a visit for Campbell to come to see the Vols play in their regular-season finale against Vanderbilt. “Man, I love Coach Osovet. He is such a great guy. He is always showing me love, checking up on me, we talk all the time. He really believes they can use me up there in their front, and I am glad that my coaches know him too.” When asked about his visit to Knoxville, Campbell said, “Man, I loved it. The fans are so great. They are so passionate and show so much love. We got to stay in the same hotel as the football players the night before the game, and Coach Osovet came down to see if we needed anything and how I was liking it. It just feels real at Tennessee, like family.”

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Though it is early in the process, Campbell had a clear answer when asked about what he looked for the most in a college at this point. “I am looking for a place that can be my home away from home. You know, I'm going to leave home, and I want to be at a place that I don't feel homesick even when I miss home. I am looking for a place where they are family, where I get to be a part of that new family, and Tennessee, it really felt like family.” When asked what other schools had been recruiting him or had offered him, Campbell said, “FIU, FAU, I mean, a lot of the Florida schools. I've got an offer from Kentucky as well. I have offers to Western Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky too.” Campbell is no doubt going to see his stock continue to rise as he grows physically. He is a high football IQ player that puts in work on the little things. He is excited to work, driven to get better, and is a football junkie in his habits. All of this combined with receiving quality high school coaching, quality training outside school, and playing against excellent competition means that this young man is likely to soar up boards as his career continues.