Christian Campbell didn’t need to see the Penn State campus. Ethan Calhoun only needed to see Kansas State’s once.
Sold on their respective team’s coaches, the two Central High football players signed national letters of intent on national signing day Wednesday to move on to the next level.
“It’s a blessing,” Campbell said. “This is an important day for me.”
Campbell made his decision to commit to Penn State Monday. He had already been recruited by new Nittany Lions coach James Franklin while Franklin was in charge of Vanderbilt’s program. Campbell went to a camp in Nashville, Tenn., met Franklin and heard his sales pitch.
Never miss a local story.
When Franklin moved to Penn State and offered Central’s star defensive back, a visit wasn’t even necessary.
“I know James Franklin,” Campbell said. “He’s a good man. I just liked him as a person. I know you’re not supposed to go to schools for the coaches, but he was a great person. When I went to camp, he was just straight up about everything.”
Calhoun, an offensive lineman for Central who will play the same in college, was equally impressed by Kansas State’s coaches. He received an offer from Wildcats coach Bill Snyder about three weeks ago, took one visit and was sold.
“I fell in love with Coach Snyder,” he said. “He made me feel like I was at home and part of their family.”
Both players will have opportunities to earn early playing time at their new schools. Campbell said he expects to compete for a starting job in the defensive backfield as a freshman, and Calhoun said, while he will likely be third on the depth chart, he is behind two seniors and could earn a job as a sophomore.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work,” Calhoun said. “I’ve been working out trying to get where I need to be. Coaches have been sending me film, stuff to study.”
Calhoun added that the discipline he learned at Central, the ability to work when no one is looking, will pay off for all the signees at the next level.
Campbell recorded 58 tackles, eight pass breakups and an interception as a senior for the Red Devils in 2013.
Calhoun and Campbell were joined by three other non Division-I signees. Running back Joshua Parker and offensive lineman Joe Jones signed with Faulkner University, while defensive lineman Jordan Strong signed with Alabama A&M.
Red Devils coach Woodrow Lowe said he is reaping the rewards of his players’ success.
“I’m reaping rewards by seeing you guys go on and compete in this life,” he said in an address to the players, students and parents. “And that doesn’t just have to be about football.”
Lowe added that the team will have a handful of other late signees in the coming weeks.