Yazoo City (Miss.) defensive end Gabriel Campbell is a name people in the SEC are getting to know well.
Campbell entered the 2013 season a bit under the radar after he missed most of his freshman and sophomore years on the football field, but he was hard to miss at 6-foot-6 and 250-pounds. It did not take long for college coaches to take notice of the standout defender who currently holds offers from Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Alcorn State with Auburn, Louisville, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Louisiana-Monroe also showing significant interest.
Campbell has been busy over the last few weeks with trips to four SEC programs, three of which have already offered.
There was a trip to Starkville for Mississippi State's junior day, and there were a few aspects of the trip which caught his attention.
"How friendly everybody was out there. They were very friendly people at Mississippi State," Campbell said. "Everybody was very friendly and had a smile on their face. Those guys are nice. They keep in contact with me all the time about other stuff It's not just about school. They're nice guys, all of them."
There was the trip to Oxford to see Ole Miss.
"Those were the funniest coaches I've ever seen," Campbell said. "It's like they're more than coaches to each other, like they're brothers almost. They play basketball tournaments and go to eat with each other and stuff like that. They were just joking the whole time we were there about everything and everybody."
Alabama also hosted the Mississippi standout.
"Alabama was nice," Campbell said. "I got a very at home feeling from Alabama and that was my first time ever being there. I got very at home feeling. I was talking and joking and that's one reason I know I'm at home. Because if I'm not I don't talk as much. If I feel comfortable I'm more talkative."
He also ventured into Alabama for Auburn's junior day.
"It was pretty good. It was the same as the other guys. I liked them," Campbell said "The indoor facility, they said if it was a few feet higher they could play a regulation game."
Next up for Campbell are possible trips to Louisiana-Lafayette's junior day on Saturday and Louisville on April 5.
After his trips, Campbell learned a lot.
He learned Ole Miss likes him at defensive tackle if he gets much bigger, which is something he understands and does not mind.
"When I went down to Ole Miss I talked to the defensive line coach," Campbell said. "I went into the meeting room with him and we watched some film and he actually told me they wanted me to play d-tackle. I was surprised by that but I don't have a problem with d-tackle."
He learned there is an opportunity to play baseball at Mississippi State, a sport with a long history in his family. Not only is Campbell also a standout pitcher with a nasty splitter, a first baseman, and third baseman at Yazoo City, but his brother Sam is currently a baseball player at Jackson State and his father, Henry, also played baseball at Jackson State. His uncle, Tommie, played in the Mets organization.
So after his travels, the sights seen, and the lessons learned, is there one trip which stood out above the others?
"Not really. All of them were just amazing to me," Campbell said. "I can't say anything bad about them. All of them were good to me."
Campbell is not ready to name a leader in his recruitment, but he does admit to growing up a fan of two programs.
"I was a big Alabama and Oklahoma fan," Campbell said. "Well, you know I was little and when we were young it was all about the team that was winning the most and that's what got me to liking Alabama. I said if they keep on winning they just might be my team. I don't know why I've always liked Oklahoma. I just always loved the Sooners. That was actually my first favorite team. I just always liked them."
He has yet to hear from the Sooners, but the Crimson Tide have already come calling. When Alabama offered it was something which caught his attention.
"It was unbelievable. I went into coach Saban's office and I was trying to keep myself from smiling," Campbell said. "I was sitting in front of him and it was amazing. I loved it. But I told myself that I'm not going to make my decision until after my senior season."
Campbell hopes to take official visits before making his final decision, and in the end it will come down to one simple factor.
"Just a place I feel is right for me," Campbell said. "Right now I don't know that but I know when the time comes I will."