BUIES CREEK, N.C. (WNCN) – Some would look at a winless four-game season as one to forget. The Campbell Camels want to remember every snap.
Despite not putting a check in the win column they were one snap from beating perennial power Georgia Southern. Trailed App State by 3 at the break and hung with Coastal Carolina. Last year didn’t yield a win against top 25 teams but those games produced boatloads of confidence for the Camels.
“When you look at that you start to believe you can compete with anybody,” said Campbell Camels head football coach Mike Minter. “You start to think when I go back down to my competition I should be good to go.”
“Now we understand the speed of the game on that next level,” said junior quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams. “So when we are going against and competing against each other in practice we understand how to look a certain way to get to that next level.”
It’s obvious to coach Minter his team leveled up. It’s got nothing to do with the increased speed or precision he’s seen on the field but rather the attitude and talk from the guys off it. He’s seen it twice before as a player. The first was in college at Nebraska right before his Huskers went on their national championship run. The next time was as a member of the Panthers before the 2003 season when Carolina went to the Super Bowl.
“The conversation is let’s not let anything distract us from winning a championship. People don’t say that. they say I’m going to work hard I want to lift weights. They don’t talk about distractions and so we came up, at Nebraska, we came up with all the things we need to eliminate in order for us to go win that championship,” said coach Minter. “That’s all we talked about every single day. That’s what my guys are talking about right now as opposed to hey coach how many days are we practicing or how many days are we doing this. It’s all about how can we eliminate the distraction.”
One of the players leading the way for the Camels is quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams. The 2020 preseason offensive player of the year helped the Camels average almost 3 TD’s per game against superior competition and when asked what he worked on this off-season had a one-word answer.
“Accuracy, simple,” said Williams. “I just want to be better with my ball placement making sure I put it where guys can’t get it, well where only my guys can get it. That being said I feel that will help take our team to where we want to go.”
“He reminds me of my guy when I played in college, Tommie Frazier,” said Minter. “He shows up and everybody gets better. That’s what he has. He has that magnetism about him now look, everybody didn’t like Tommie and everybody don’t like Hajj OK. But he gets the job done.”
On the flip side of the football opposing offenses will have to deal with Darion Slade who brings a pile of hits and experience to the defense.
“He could have went into the draft but he decided to come back you know why? Because he felt like this football team had a chance to win a championship,” said coach Minter. “That says a lot about a young man willing to delay his satisfaction and personal goals to come back with his players.”
“I’m more of a lead-by-example type of person,” said redshirt senior defensive back Darion Slade. “Just showing up to meetings pen in hand, notebook, film study, getting extra work in after practice and things like that.”
When asked what the hallmark of this year’s camp was going to be when they hit the field coach did not mince words.
“We’re going to compete,” said Minter. “We’re going to go one against ones and we’re going to compete.”