Austin Peay football player Ben Campbell is getting a kick out of the Governors’ tough schedule.
Campbell, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound sophomore from Science Hill, has punted 21 times in three games – an 0-3 start comprised of road losses at Virginia Tech (42-7), Western Kentucky (49-10) and Tennessee State (34-14).
Campbell was as impressed with Western Kentucky as he was Virginia Tech. The Hilltoppers beat Kentucky last week.
“We have had a pretty exciting and challenging schedule,” Campbell said. “Virginia tech was a pretty tough game because I not only was fighting the nerves from the 65,000-plus people watching me, there was also a wind close to 25 or 30 (mph).”
Cambpell is averaging 37.7 yards per punt. He’s produced three fair catches, a touchback and has pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line three times.
Campbell became a starter in the second game last season as a freshman at Memphis. He averaged 37.6 yards on 53 punts and his season long was a 59-yarder.
Cambpell had a 69-yard punt at Science Hill as a senior, and was arguably the player of the game in a season-opening win at Soddy-Daisy in 2010.
When Campbell’s confidence matches his leg strength, the sky – or at least the top of stadiums – is the limit.
“I feel like a had a great camp,” Campbell said. “I was punting balls consistently 50-plus yards. But I feel like in the games I've been more conservative with my punts.”
Campbell’s teammates include senior tight end Ashlon Adams and freshman lineman Tyler Miles. The 6-foot-5, 249-pound Adams, who has two catches for 20 yards, played at Science Hill before transferring to Dobyns-Bennett.
Miles, a 6-foot-4, 300-pounder, is likely to red-shirt this season.
“Tyler has been doing very well from what I've seen,” Campbell said. “He's every bit as big and strong as everyone else but he is still learning, and he'll be an asset to us in the near future. Ashlon is also doing well but I haven't seen him as much. He is still strong and fast. I think he is at the point in his college career where he is teaching more than he is learning, and that's good, because we have quite a few freshman tight ends.”
They crossed paths with another Hilltopper in the loss to Tennessee State. Ryan Mitchell is a sophomore receiver for TSU. The speedy Mitchell made two solo tackles on special teams against the Governors and has six stops on the season.
He had three tackles in a 38-12 win against Jackson State in the opener in front of a crowd of 42,257 at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
Tennessee State drew a crowd of 14,264 for the Governors at Hale Stadium in Nashville on Sept. 15. Adams had a 16-yard catch in the loss for Austin Peay.
“I talked to Ryan after the TSU game,” Campbell said. “We were both very excited to see each other and talk about football and our summer, but it was a little rough to see them beat us for the first time in three years.”
Science Hill alumnus Jeff Green has played a huge role in the University of Charleston’s 3-0 start. Green is the reigning West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference player of the week following a school-record four-sack performance in a 17-14 win against Concord on Saturday.
Green, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound senior defensive lineman, produced the game-winning touchdown when he recovered a fumble and returned it 11 yards for a score with 8:17 remaining.
He later tallied his final sack on the last possession of Concord, the defending WVIAC Champions.
Green was also named the NCAA Division II Defensive Player of the Week nationally by Beyond Sports College Network.
“Jeff’s a great leader,” Charleston coach Pat Kirkland said. “You know, just works his tail off. Plays injured. Plays hurt. Plays hard every snap.
“He did a great job last week. Made some plays late in the game that really put us in a position to win the football game. I expect great things out of him the remainder of the season.”
Green also had a fumble recovery each of the past two seasons and forced two fumbles last year. He had 51 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss, including four sacks, in 2011.
Former Daniel Boone standout Matt Duncan is also at Charleston. The junior linebacker has 12 tackles this season.