Safety Campbell Looks For Growing Role In Second Season

The redshirt sophomore saw more playing time toward the end of last season

Shelby Cassesse
August 07, 2018 - 2:56 pm
Phil Campbell III makes a tackle against Virginia Tech in 2017.

© Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – In his first active year, Phil Campbell III appeared in eight games with the Panthers, but his first start came in the most memorable game of the 2017 season. 

The safety started in Pitt's 24-14 win over No. 2 Miami, where he totaled three of his 13 tackles for the season. Now a redshirt sophomore, Campbell is ready to make a bigger impact in Pitt's secondary. 

"I want to be part of big games like that all the time," he said following practice Tuesday. "I think that this year we're going to do great things."

Campbell saw his role grow throughout the course of the season, with his best performance coming against Virginia Tech. He had a season-high seven tackles. 

Pitt's secondary has some new faces from a coaching standpoint this year with the arrivals of safeties coach Cory Sanders and secondary coach Archie Collins. Campbell seems to think the hiring of Sanders and Collins has created better communication between the secondary as a whole. 

"I think it's a lot better. Coach Sanders, he's always on me for every little detail from our alignment, from our first step. Coach Collins, he's doing great work with the corners, and I think the corners and safeties are just on one string this year. I think we're making great strides." 

Although he arrived at Pitt in February, Sanders says he's seen growth from Campbell in that small amount of time. 

"What you really notice is how he's continued to develop with the play book. You sort of see Phil seeing the big picture now, not just his side, but seeing how motions go across coming back, and just seeing everything overall. He's been good from a mental standpoint. He's really done well there."

Campbell will most likely see more time as a boundary safety, a position known for getting involved in the run defense. It's a role the Kendall Park, NJ native welcomes.

"That's probably my favorite aspect of the game, just being part of the run and being physical. I feel like I can bring a physical part to the defense." 

Sanders was quick to agree that Campbell is a presence in the secondary. 

"He really brings that physicality too. He brings great physicality, what you want out of a boundary safety, a guy that can come downhill and hit. He's really shown that."