Michigan's Campbell shapes up for the fall

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Whenever William Campbell's name gets brought up, so does the word expectations.

It's not a term usually attached to a true freshman defensive tackle. Then again, Campbell looks nothing like a typical freshman and Michigan needs capable interior linemen after losing Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson.

Campbell, one of Michigan's top recruits in the 2009 class, enrolled in January and should be part of the rotation at tackle this fall. Wolverines head coach Rich Rodriguez said Sunday that Campbell is getting work as a nose tackle and at the 3-technique.

"There's been steady growth with him," defensive line coach Bruce Tall said. "As far as the young guys, everybody has such high expectations and tries to push the envelope faster than sometimes maybe it needs to be. You've got to teach before you can demand, and he's still in the teaching phase."

At least Campbell can spend camp learning his responsibilities, rather than worrying about his weight. He came to Michigan at 355 pounds but has since trimmed 37 pounds off of his 6-foot-5 frame.

"Right now, I'm in the best shape of my life," Campbell said. "After one play, I'm not tired at all anymore, and it just goes on. I'm moving faster."

Campbell knew he'd have to lose weight to keep pace in the Wolverines' defense. He worked closely with strength and conditioning director Mike Barwis, whose summer workouts were grueling but necessary.

"If you hate it, you won't get through it," Campbell said. "So you've got to get used to it."

Added Barwis: "He's worked really hard. He's got a great attitude. He changed his body pretty effectively, but he's still got a ways to go."

Now able to concentrate on the game, Campbell has been mentored by senior defensive end Brandon Graham, who serves as his big brother on the team. Michigan pairs upperclassmen with freshmen in position groups to help the newcomers learn the ropes.

The two regularly watch film of their upcoming opponents, and Graham tells Campbell how to spot clues from offensive linemen on what play might be coming.

"All he wants to do is learn," Graham said. "That's what we've been doing."