The 90 Illini #61: Dalevon Campbell
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When researching the numbers for some of these posts (like each player's stats from last year), I still shake my head when I think about the insanity of the season. Season canceled then un-canceled. Eight games. A bonus game AFTER the coach was fired where almost every player on the roster got in the game.
And now, each time I fill out the "year in school" part, I'm still struck by the weirdness of it all. Last year's freshmen are simply combined with this year's freshmen to make one massive freshman class. The incoming 2021 freshmen have 5 years to play 4 seasons, and the returning 2020 freshmen... get 5 years to play 4 seasons (starting now).
For someone like Dalevon Campbell, who played as a true freshman and didn't take a redshirt year in 2019, my brain initially says "hey, he basically got his redshirt year back because last year didn't count". But then I realize that the 2019 freshmen who redshirted also "got a redshirt year back" last year so there was no extra benefit to Campbell.
It's stuff just like that, over and over, every day. My brain still cannot process A) that last season actually happened, and B) that Jake Hansen, who picked Illinois in December of 2015, is still on the roster in 2021. I'm nearly 30 players deep on this list and my brain is still struggling to understand it all.
61. Dalevon Campbell
Uniform number: 19
Year in school: Sophomore (without the Covid waiver, 3 years to play 2; with the Covid waiver, technically 4 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-4" -- Weight: 200 lbs.
Hometown: Missouri City, Texas
High School: Ford Bend Marshall HS
Five best offers: none
Tom Cruise rating:
2020 statistics: Played in 7 of the 8 games, starting one. 3 catches for 48 yards.
Of all the track star projects that Lovie took on, Dalevon Campbell was perhaps the most track star project of them all. He went to a track-centric high school (it's known as the best T&F high school in America), he only played football one season, and he joined Illinois in June after he graduated high school. Lovie wanted speed, Campbell's relay teams had the best times in the nation in the spring of 2019, and next thing you know this really tall, really fast guy has signed on to play football at Illinois.
He was one of only five freshmen to play in 2019 (the rest redshirted), but he had the worst luck. The new rule states that you get a redshirt as long as you play in four games or less. Campbell was injured in the fifth game in 2019 and missed the rest of the season. Had he been injured late in the 4th game instead of early in the 5th game, he could have redshirted and not burned a season of eligibility.
Campbell is impossible to predict. We don't know the receiver types that the new staff is looking for, we don't know how far he's come in his "track star tries to learn football" journey, and we don't know how 6'-4" receivers might be used in this offense. That 24-yard catch in the Penn State game - peek at what's to come or function of every player getting a shot in that game?
All we can really say is that he's now a third-year player. One year of high school football and now two years of college football. He's fast and athletic (which is why he played on special teams as a true freshman), but has he learned how to play wide receiver? We shall see.