Thursday evening, the National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson reported that the Colts had signed two fullbacks – that’s right, fullbacks – Stephen Campbell of West Virginia Wesleyan College and Cameron White from Hillsdale College in Michigan.
Both players participated in NFL regional combines (Campbell in New Jersey and White in Chicago) as well as the super regional combine in Detroit.
Before we go into any opinions, let’s meet the new guys. Here’s Wilson’s info on Campbell:
In 32 career games for West Virginia Wesleyan, Campbell recorded 65 receptions for 625 yards and eight touchdowns.
As a junior in 2011, Campbell earned honorable mention West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference accolades after starting all 11 games and catching 38 passes for 303 yards and five touchdowns. In 2010, he appeared in all 11 games and recorded 14 receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
In four seasons at Hillsdale College (Mich.) he registered 94 receptions for 1,145 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also scored one rushing touchdown and contributed with 17 tackles on special teams. As a senior in 2012, White started eight games and caught 38 passes for 443 yards and five touchdowns. He earned All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) first-team honors as a junior after posting 32 receptions for 372 yards, four touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
It’s always great to see a guy get a shot at playing in the NFL, and the regional combines are allowing more small school players and guys who’ve taken a unique path to the brink of the pros to have their chance to shine (Think Josh McNary).
Campbell played some tight end at WVWC, and White appears to line up on the end of the line quite a bit in his lengthy highlight video. The Colts could use a reliable third tight end, a position that was a carousel of cuts last season, and for all we know right now, one or both of these guys could be in the mix for that position battle this summer/fall.
And Now, the Editorializing
Of course, because this move was met with a collective groan from many (so many) Colts fans, we should note that this team already has three starting-caliber wide receivers and two more starter quality players at tight end. That’s five skill players, all of whom can contribute a great deal in the passing game, and on most plays, only four will be on the field. Sending in the fullback means taking a second one of those talented receivers or tight ends off the field.
Many fans abhor the idea of a lead blocker taking a large percentage of the snaps while players like T.Y. Hilton (82 rec, 1,083 yds, 5 TD’s) and Coby Fleener (52, 608, 4) watch from the sidelines, and this is why so many Colts fans didn’t like seeing Ryan Grigson picking up fullbacks.
The Colts, however, did better as 2013 wore on at keeping their best players on the field for the offense. We shouldn’t read too much into this move other than just a couple guys getting a chance to show the NFL what they can do. If anything, the Colts’ higher profile actions – signing Hakeem Nicks and scouting 10 receivers at their pro days while bringing in four for private workouts – probably tell us more about the team’s plans and intentions than yesterday’s signings.
While it could, a camp competition at fullback likely does not signal a return to the Mad Men-era offense we saw at the beginning of last season. They’ve come too far for that (right?).
When the Colts bring on rookies, we like to give you some scouting or highlight videos, whether they’re first rounders or UDFA’s. We can even do it for previously little-known fullbacks from the regional combine.
First up is White. Somebody put together a 23-minute highlight reel from his 2011 season at Hillsdale College. I didn’t view the whole thing, but I can say White does have a certain tenacity about him, and he can snag a pass in the flat or line up as a tight end and catch one over the middle. Watch for number 23:
Next up is Campbell, listed in the video as an H-back/ Long Snapper/ Tight End/ Fullback, which I think is just fantastic. The videographer also says Campbell has 4.4 speed, which could be fun to watch at the fullback or backup tight end position.
The video, unfortunately appears to have been filmed by an out of focus camera or some early version of the Hubble Telescope. They were kind enough to highlight where Campbell was before each snap, at least: