The Wolfpacker

January 2018

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 36 of 107

JANUARY 2018 ■ 37 WHEREARETHEYNOW? BY JACEY ZEMBAL F ormer NC State strong safety Jesse Campbell is one of the greatest to ever play the position for the Wolfpack. The three-time first-team All-ACC pick had a decorated three-year career at NC State, patrolling the secondary, always ready to make a big hit or play. His final numbers are still staggering, particularly forcing 15 fumbles (recover- ing six) in 32 games played. He also tal- lied 269 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, five sacks, seven interceptions and 30 passes broken up. Campbell announced his abilities with an impressive redshirt freshman season, winning the 1988 ACC Rookie of the Year after compiling 85 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and an astonishing six caused fumbles. He wasn't just a factor in run support either, adding five interceptions and 11 passes broken up. His tackles, tack- les for loss, passes broken up and inter- ceptions all led the squad. Campbell's ini- tial year helped set him up for a national breakthrough in 1989. He earned second- team All-America status from Football News, and honorable mention honors from The Sporting News and United Press Inter- national (UPI). He topped the century mark with 106 tackles in 11 games played (9.6 tackles per contest) and was utilized in a blitzing role that season. He had four sacks, seven tackles for loss, six caused fumbles, four recovered fumbles, two interceptions and nine passes broken up. By his junior year, opponents game planned against Campbell's playmaking skills, plus he had a hand injury. He still piled up 78 tackles in 10 games played, and he added four tackles for loss, one sack, three caused fumbles (recovering one) and 10 passes broken up. The honors rolled in for Campbell. Both Football News and The Sporting News named him a first-team All-American, while UPI listed him on its second team and the Associated Press dubbed him a third-team choice. Picking NC State ended up being one of the most important decisions Campbell has made in his life, but he did not enjoy the recruiting process. "I really didn't," he said. "The coaches were constantly trying to lure you to their school and telling you how they thought their school fit you best. "I really didn't like the official visits. I set ones for Clemson, North Carolina and NC State. I cancelled my ones to Texas A&M and Oklahoma. "It just wasn't a fun process and I don't think it's fun for the kids now either, espe- cially with social media and the contacts they can have. "I knew I wanted to go to State since the 10th grade. I don't know why, but I was a State fan before they even offered." Campbell will always remember scoring a touchdown off an interception against Georgia Tech, winning all three games against North Carolina, and postseason wins in the Peach Bowl in 1988 and the All-American Bowl in 1990. The Wolf- pack went 22-13-1 overall and 11-9-1 in the ACC during his three years on the field. In addition to the victories he contrib- uted to, Campbell forged long-lasting friendships with teammates Ray Agnew, Mike Jones, Fernandus Vinson and Joe Johnson, among others. "Being back in the Raleigh area, I can talk to the guys more," Campbell said. "A lot of my teammates live in the area. That really means a lot to me, and it lasts a lifetime." Campbell's success led him to enter the 1991 NFL Draft a year early, and he went in the second round — pick No. 48 overall — to the Philadelphia Eagles. He injured his knee before the season and observed star defensive veterans such as defensive ends Reggie White and Clyde Simmons, outside linebacker Seth Joyner, strong safety Andre Waters and cornerback Eric Allen in 1991. Due to the injury, he ended up making his NFL debut in 1992 with the New York Giants, where he played from 1992-96. He spent his last two seasons with Washington before retiring after the 1998 season. Campbell remembers arriving to the Gi- ants, who featured linebackers Lawrence Taylor, Cark Banks and Pepper Johnson, quarterback Phil Simms, running backs Ottis Anderson and Rodney Hampton, de- fensive end Leonard Marshall and former NCSU cornerback Perry Williams. Agnew later reunited with his college teammate in New York in 1995-96. "It was a great experience playing with guys that I watched on TV for so long," Campbell said. "I got to play with some of the greatest players to ever play the game of football." Campbell and Taylor definitely shared some thoughts on the Wolfpack and Tar Heels rivalry at that time. "With him being from Carolina and me from State, it was always there," he said. "I had a little help because Perry Williams was there. We had to battle his Carolina love." Campbell amassed 304 tackles, seven interceptions, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries in 92 NFL games (61 starts). He was also part of a growing trend of big, strong safeties, with listed NFL mea- surements at 6-1 and 211 pounds. He still relishes the thought of punishing oppos- ing players. "They were going from smaller safe- ties to bigger safe- ties to help on the run more," he said. "I enjoyed that. Most receivers were smaller then, and I enjoyed hitting them being the bigger person. It was just a time where hard hitting was part of the game." Campbell currently teaches and coaches football at Wendell (N.C.) East Wake High, just outside of Raleigh. He has lived in various places since his playing days ended and began his new positions last February. Campbell's family and educational goals have driven various key decisions over the years. He and his wife, Belinda, have a son and two daughters. His son, Jesse Jr., is 20 years old and is studying pharmaceuti- cal science and chemistry at North Caro- lina Central. His oldest daughter, Ken- nedy, is 18 years old and graduated from high school last spring, while Kristy is 16 and attends Raleigh Leesville Road High, where she plays soccer. Campbell is one of just four NC State football players to be named first-team All-ACC at least three times, joining four-time honoree Ted Brown (1975-78) and fellow three-tim- ers Dennis Byrd (1965-67) and Jack Whitley (1968-70). PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS Jesse Campbell Football (1987-90) Age: 48 Living: Raleigh Occupation: Teacher and assistant football coach at Wendell (N.C.) East Wake High Did you know? Campbell accounted for 22 turn - overs — seven interceptions and 15 caused fumbles — in just 32 games at NC State, before leaving a year early to enter the NFL Draft. Nobody else in school history has more than nine forced fumbles. "He was the most physical defensive back I've ever seen at NC State. He was a load, and people did not want to get near him with the ball." ■ Executive director of the Wolfpack Club Bobby Purcell

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