Less than one week until college football kicks off! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus “completely bulletproof” — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Michael Campanaro was the entire Wake Forest offense last year. Let’s get that out of the way. In the three games he caught more than 10 balls, the Demon Deacons were 3-0 while scoring an average of 35 points per game. In the four contests in which he caught two passes or less (including two where he did not play at all), they were outscored 115-57, picking up a 16-10 victory over lowly Virginia. The Deacs completed 239 passes on the year (70th in the country) and of those, Campanaro caught 79 of them (one-third). His six scores were nearly half of the teams’ 13 through the air. Again… the entire offense.
This season, Campanaro needs to make the leap, however, from reliable target to game-changer. That’s no easy task in this sort of overly conservative offense. But in just 10 games last year, he did make a huge impact. Now he simply needs to be targeted more often — or maybe the Wake offense simply needs to be better. They understood what they had in Campanaro last year — a quick receiver with sure hands who could excel catching passes in space — and even looked like they tried to use him in innovative ways (16 rushes last year). I have a feeling with the impending move to a spread option setup, you’ll see much more of Campanaro running the ball, which means a ton of big-play potential. No, he’s not Sammy Watkins in that capacity, and never will be, but nothing wrong with trying some new things to fix a very stale attack.
So long as he’s healthy this fall, we should see a recharged Campanaro leading this team in receiving and challenging for the ACC receptions lead. He’s not the flashiest player on the field, and will certainly be overshadowed by a few more nationally-relevant wideouts. But we’ve seen that sort of existence in this league before, most recently in Conner Vernon, and I’d say that worked out pretty well for the ACC’s career receptions leader. Like many of the other players in the top 20-25 range on this list, Campanaro is a huge part of whether Wake Forest makes the postseason or not — something I’m sure Jim Grobe is keenly aware of, and will adjust the offense to properly reflect.