— By Sean Manning, The Dominion Post
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Shea Campbell bears a striking resemblance to a former teammate, at least according to the West Virginia football coaches.
Both head coach Dana Holgorsen and defensive coordinator Tony Gibson compared Campbell to Justin Arndt, a walk-on that turned himself into a starting linebacker by his senior season.
Not only did Arndt become a starter at Sam linebacker, he led the Mountaineers in tackles in 2016 with 84.
The comparisons are easy to make on the surface: Arndt is a West Virginia native from Martinsburg who walked on at WVU, as did Campbell after graduating from Morgantown High in 2015.
The former Mohigan was a safety in high school and seemed undersized to play linebacker at the college level. Arndt also heard he was too small to play significant snaps at a Power Five program.
Arndt proved his doubters wrong in the end, and now Campbell hopes to do the same after earning a scholarship this summer and working his way into the linebacker two-deep at Sam.
Campbell has already bulked up 31 pounds since his freshman season and weighs 240, which forced the coaching staff to move him from safety to linebacker. He’s already 25 pounds heavier than Arndt was as a senior.
Coaches expect Campbell to be a contributor behind Charlie Benton and on special teams.
“Gibby loves him and he’s smart — he really reminds us a lot of Justin Arndt,” Holgorsen said. “He’s a West Virginia kid that walked on and does everything right. He’s a good football player that shows up to practice. He did a great job for us on scout team last year. He’s going to play a lot of special teams and he’ll be a backup linebacker.
“Hopefully he lives up to what we think he can be.”
Gibson said Campbell has built himself into a player:
“He had a really, really good spring and good summer and is just getting it. He works his tail off and it’s paying off for him.”
Campbell dressed for the final two home games last season against Iowa State and Texas, but has yet to appear in a game. His knowledge of assignments in the 3-3-5 defense helped Campbell separate himself from even some of the scholarship linebackers.
“He and (Dylan) Tonkery have played all three positions, so from a knowledge standpoint, having a guy that can go from Sam to Mike in a bind, he could get us through if we needed him there,” assistant linebackers coach Mark Scott said. “He’s put himself into position where he’s going to be a player for us this year.”