As his postgame press session ended — after he’d talked about his record-setting day, his thoughts about quarterback Dwayne Haskins being an early Heisman Trophy frontrunner and the emotional return of Urban Meyer after a three-game suspension — there was only one question left to ask Ohio State H-back Parris Campbell:
“So that first name? It sounds exotic or famous or something.
“There’s Paris Hilton, Paris Jackson…Paris, France.”
Campbell smiled, but then admitted: “I’m actually a Jr. I’m named for my dad. He’s Parris, too. His mother’s name is Patricia so I think it just has something to do with that.”
He shrugged and shook his head as if apologizing.
And that was his only bobble of the day.
Campbell had nothing to feel sorry about – no reason to feel second fiddle – not Saturday after the No. 4 Buckeyes had overwhelmed Tulane, 49-6, at Ohio Stadium.
Campbell, the fifth-year senior from Akron, had a career day:
Eight catches, 147 yards and two touchdowns, including a picture-perfect, 37-yard deep fade that culminated with an over the shoulder catch of a pinpoint Haskins rainbow to the left corner of the end zone.
Most of that came in the first quarter. All of it had come by halftime. He never even played in the second half.
Afterward, he was praised by everyone from Meyer to LeBron James.
“That touchdown to Parris Campbell over the left shoulder, what a beautiful throw and catch!” Meyer said. “I’m proud of Parris. That was a catch he has struggled with over the years and he has really worked so hard at it.”
And James tweeted to his fellow Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary alum:
There’s a lot of love coming Campbell’s way this season, no more so than from Meyer, who returned to the Bucks sideline Saturday after his exile for the way he handled all things related to his former receivers’ coach, Zach Smith, who’s alleged of abusing his wife and lots of other questionable behavior while on Meyer’s staff at OSU and Florida before that.
After 14,000 Buckeye fans gave Meyer a long, standing ovation at the pregame Skull Session at St. John Arena, the coach stopped to shake hands which each of his players as they headed to the Horseshoe.
He saved one of his biggest hugs for Campbell.
Meyer has a special appreciation for him for several reasons:
• Campbell’s been willing to sacrifice for the good of the team. He was a running back in high school, played special teams early at OSU, turned himself into a wide receiver and then became a hybrid H-back/slot receiver.
• After last January’s Cotton Bowl, he made the decision to return to OSU for a fifth year rather than follow the money to the NFL. Although he would have been a high rounds pick, he wouldn’t have been a first rounder and that’s the standard to which he holds himself.
“I knew what my weaknesses were and knew what I had to work to become a more polished, more fluid receiver. You compare yourself to the best at all times. That’s how I am.
“Obviously the next level is something you dream of…but I look at the best receivers in the NFL and you see their strengths. There’s not a lot of weaknesses that a lot of the top NFL receivers have.”
Meyer agreed with Campbell’s return: “He made a decision and he should have come back. I think he’s a top first-round draft pick at some point, but he had to improve his ball skills down field.”
• Campbell did just that in the offseason. Over the summer he said he caught over 7,000 passes just to develop his hands more.
He also was driven, in part, by what he felt was a snub by NFL.com which put out a list of the 18 fastest players in college football. Campbell, known for his electrifying speed, wasn’t on it.
“I was insulted,” he said.
After all, in high school in 2014 he set the state record for the 60-yard dash. And after the list came out, OSU released a video showing Campbell — timed by a hand-held stop watch — running the 40-yard dash in 4.26 seconds.
• Such drive has made him one of the OSU captains this season and during Meyer’s suspension he was one player who provided vocal support for his coach, saying: “We’re angry.”
Saturday he again embraced Meyer:
“That’s my guy. It meant a lot to me just seeing him back in the Shoe. I love Coach Meyer and he loves me. He loves the entire team. I’m sure in that moment he got chills, just as I did.”
Campbell’s return to OSU for another year is looking like one of the best moves he could have made.
In first-year starter Haskins, he has a strong-armed quarterback with pinpoint accuracy that has become the talk of college football this young season.
Meyer actually hinted at that three years ago when he signed Haskins out of Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, saying: “He’s the best quarterback at his age I’ve ever seen.”
Playing just two quarters against Tulane on Saturday, the redshirt sophomore completed 21 of 24 passes for 304 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. Leading OSU to a 4-0 start this season, he’s thrown for 16 TDs against just one interception.
And that puts him on a pace to break the 35 touchdown passes – an OSU record – J.T. Barrett had last season.
Just as importantly, with the much-needed ouster of Zach Smith, former Buckeye standout and NFL stalwart Brian Hartline was made the interim receivers coach.
When Hartline played at OSU the Buckeyes won four Big Ten titles. As a six-year Miami Dolphin, he had a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons, a franchise-record 253 receiving yards in one game and signed a five-year, $31 million contract extension in 2013, only to have his career cut short by torn PCL.
“He’s been a huge help, just because he’s played at that (NFL) level and dominated at that level,” Campbell said. “Having that resource has been great for me, He talks about things that go on in the NFL. How things from college translate there.
“One thing he preaches to the entire receiving unit: ‘Once you get comfortable, something’s wrong.’
“I’m never comfortable with my performance. I’m always looking to get better. I know I had a good day today, but what’s around the corner is Penn State and I need to be consistent.
“Leading into the game today, I didn’t have any doubts in my mind. What I needed to do on the field I felt I could do.”
He said he hoped he performed the same way when the Bucks go to Happy Valley.
And that brings us back to an observation by another famous Paris.
As Paris Hilton said:
“Wal-mart… Do they make walls there?”
Whoops, wrong quote:
“I love Africa in general. South Africa and West Africa, they are both great countries.”
Sorry, wrong again.
Here we go:
“The only rule is don’t be boring and dress cute where ever you go. Life is too short to blend in.”
And this season Parris Campbell is certainly not just blending in.
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