Staff Photo: John Bohn Myles Campbell flexes his muscles while posing for a portrait. Campbell is receiver/return specialist on the Duluth football team.
It's not uncommon for an outstanding football player to be either overlooked or underappreciated because of his size -- or rather, his lack of size.
That's a phenomenon Myles Campbell knows full well.
At 5-foot-7, 165 pounds, the Duluth receiver/defensive back/return specialist admits to feeling like he's had something to prove in past seasons.
But as he heads into his senior season, which begins with the Wildcats traveling to Berkmar for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday, Campbell has learned to focus more on maximizing the abilities he has, rather than the attributes he doesn't have.
"I can't wish myself (to be) 6-foot-4, but I try to be the best I can at my size," Campbell said. "It doesn't matter to me, honestly."
Campbell has every right to be at peace with his accomplishments over the last two seasons.
After posting 36 receptions for 438 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore, he had 51 more catches for 697 yards and 5 TDs, making him the county's top returning receiver, plus 286 yards and three TDs rushing.
And based on his work ethic he displayed this offseason, Wildcats head coach Corey Jarvis believes Campbell is poised to put up even bigger numbers this fall.
"Myles has never really lacked in confidence," Jarvis said. "His big thing is that he's gotten a lot bigger. He's been playing about 135 or 140 pounds the past two years. He's about (160) now. Speed-wise, he went to (camp) at Middle Tennessee (State) and he got clocked at 4.3 (seconds in the 40-yard dash). He ran a 4.3 at Scout.com MVP camp. So, he's a step faster than he was last year."
Indeed, with his lack of size, speed and athleticism have had to be big parts of Campbell's game.
But despite already possessing sprinter's speed -- he boasts a personal record of about 11.0 seconds in the 100-meter dash and about 23.0 seconds in the 200 as a member of Duluth's track team -- he has worked hard to take his best asset to an even higher level.
"In the offseason, I work with my trainer, Earl (Williams). I did speed (and) agility two times a day," Campbell said. "Then I'll go to football training outside of school, and that helps with my speed, as well.
"I've always pretty much been a fast guy, and I knew that since I wasn't growing much, that would be my No. 1 (asset). Football is based on speed."
Perhaps, but size is still one of the most valued attributes in the game, particularly with college coaches recruiting high school players.
And while Campbell's size is quite limited, it hasn't prevented him from attracting scholarship offers from Division I programs like Middle Tennessee State, Troy, Cincinnati, Florida Atlantic, East Carolina and Georgia State, as well as interest from larger BCS conference programs like Georgia Tech, Duke and North Carolina.
Still, Jarvis admits the size issue isn't going to go away for his prized receiver.
"He (already) had Georgia Tech and North Carolina who really liked him, and Duke loves him," Jarvis said. "It's the same thing even with (MTSU) and Troy and East Carolina and all the schools that have offered him, the deal is the same -- the size issue. He's only a 5-(foot-)5, 5-6 kid. So I don't see him growing vertically."
Still, Campbell hopes to open some eyes by improving what he can about his game.
In addition to his aforementioned speed training, he has also done extensive strength training during the offseason, something that has already paid off with him gaining almost 30 pounds from his sophomore season.
"I talked to a lot of (college) coaches and they told me I needed to get bigger and stronger to get recruited," Campbell said. "I think I took that as a focus. It's harder more me to break tackles (because) I'm a smaller guy. I took that as a (challenge) to get stronger and faster to still be me at the same time."
But Jarvis believes that if there is anything that will convince college programs to take a chance on Campbell, it will go beyond his physical abilities.
From his versatility -- he has excelled on offense, defense and special teams -- to his understanding of new pass routes that Jarvis and his staff installed when they came to Duluth three years ago, to his leadership ability, Jarvis says Campbell has the intangibles to make anyone's program better.
"Our kids kind of feed off him, especially on offense," Jarvis said. "He's just a great kid. Our kids respect him, and ... I think he (would have gotten) voted (a team) captain last year, but I wouldn't let (an underclassman) be one. He's just a player the kids respect. They know he's a good ball player."
But college can wait. Right now, Campbell has other goals in mind -- mainly, helping the Wildcats, who have dramatically improved to back-to-back 4-6 seasons after a stretch that saw them win just six games the previous six seasons, earn their first winning season since 1995 and their first postseason berth since '94.
And he has a definite idea of what he needs to do to help them accomplish those goals.
"Basically, to play my part," Campbell said. "As a team, we all try to play our parts to win every game, and we just take it one game at a time."