Through the first six games of the 2000 season, the Penn football team's defense has faced some of the finest receivers in Division I-AA. Phil Yarberough from Lafayette, Damien Roomets from Dartmouth and Yale's Eric Johnson are all talented wideouts who the Quakers had to try to contain. It won't get any easier this weekend against Brown. The Bears possess the No. 1 offense in Division I-AA, and leading that offense is Stephen Campbell, a wide receiver whose individual statistics compare with some of the best college wideouts to ever play the game. Right now, Campbell has 253 career receptions, leaving him in fourth place and only 53 receptions behind a former Mississippi Valley State player by the name of Jerry Rice, who set the career collegiate receptions record of 301 before moving on to NFL stardom. If Campbell catches 12 balls a game for the Bears' remaining four games, he will tie the record. "Stephen has tremendous natural ability," Brown coach Phil Estes said. "But he also works very hard. He worked all summer to improve his speed and always studies film. He is an all-around great competitor and has such a great feel for the football field." Currently, Campbell is atop the Division I-AA leaderboard in almost every wideout category. He is No. 1 in receptions with 68. He leads in yards per game at 126.0 and in total yards with 756. Despite his individual achievements, Campbell gives a lot of credit for his success to the Brown football program. "Our system is predicated on the pass, which has allowed me to have really good numbers," Campbell said. "The coaches really make sure the players fit the system well, which has been a main reason for the team's and my success." Although he hasn't always been the best in the country, Campbell has been a standout ever since his rookie season in 1997. That year he caught 35 passes for 403 yards and five touchdowns, and his numbers have improved steadily every year. In his sophomore year, Campbell was a first team All-Ivy selection and was second in both receptions per game and receiving yards per game in the Ivies. Last season, the Kent, Wash., native had a breakout year. Sean Morey, a Brown wide receiver standout who was drafted by the New England Patriots, graduated in May 1999 -- leaving Campbell as the premier target. Campbell played an integral role in Brown's Ivy-title winning campaign last year. He compiled numbers that ranked him among the nation's best. He caught 89 passes, which is good for 11th best all-time in Division I-AA history. His average of 8.9 receptions per game was sixth in I-AA. He was a unanimous first team All-Ivy and All-ECAC selection. All of those attributes have certainly shown while playing against Penn in the last few years. Last season, Campbell had a stellar game against the Quakers, catching 10 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns. In 1998, he had nine receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns against the Red and Blue. "He's a very consistent receiver; he gets the job done," Penn cornerback Hasani White said. "The key thing is that we're not going to let the best person beat us. We're going to make Brown beat us with somebody else. They have the No. 1 offense in the country and he is a focal point. But they are spreading the offense around, so it's going to be a collective effort." Although Campbell is the go-to guy on the Bears offense, running back Mike Malan and wideouts Chas Gessner and Bill Rackley lead a talented supporting cast. Malan ran for a career-high 234 yards and five touchdowns last week against Cornell, and Gessner and Rackley have been consistent all season, compiling 385 and 376 receiving yards respectively. "They are making more of a commitment running the ball with Malan, and they're doing a better job of spreading the ball around, but Campbell is still the No. 1 guy on that offense," Bagnoli said. With statistics such as Campbell's, the 6'3", 205-pound receiver certainly has a shot to be drafted into the NFL in April. But Campbell is trying to remain focused on the season. "Right now, I am trying to focus on the year, but it is a goal of mine," he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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