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Campbell settling into IU kicking job

Redshirt sophomore says two years on the sidelines served him well

Syndication: Indianapolis Bobby Goddin/For IndyStar

Charles Campbell hit a dog on Saturday.

No, not a real, live Good Boy, but a cardboard cutout — one of the many situated in the end zone seating beyond the uprights at Memorial Stadium. As part of its season-long fan cutout promotion this fall, IU is giving regulation game balls to fans whose cardboard stand-ins are struck by flying pigskins. That means Campbell, IU’s redshirt sophomore kicker, has two jobs this year — thread the uprights for Hoosier points, and make sure paying fans (and dogs) receive their coveted keepsakes.

“I hope that dog got something nice,” Campbell said.

So far, Campbell is two-for-two, both in terms of giving fans what they paid for and putting points on the board for Indiana. After stepping into the job in a relief role during the Bucket Game last November, the duties are all Campbell’s this year.

And in his limited sample size, Campbell is demonstrating that he’s up for the task.

“Just knowing I’ve had a game under my belt, it gives me a lot of confidence about myself that I can run out there and hit a kick,” Campbell said. “So it’s provided me a lot of confidence, especially that first field goal and just getting that first field goal out of the way.

Campbell converted both of his kicks during Saturday’s win over Penn State, hitting from 34 and 48 yards. Not to jinx him, but the Jackson, Tenn. native hasn’t missed so far in an IU uniform. Last season, he booted a 48-yard field goal in the Eastern Illinois win, then hit a 41-yard try in the regular season finale at Purdue.

A high school All-American who was once ranked the No. 5 kicker nationally by Rivals, Campbell had to wait for his turn with the first team field goal unit — never mind that he was the first scholarship kicker IU had signed since Mitch Ewald in 2009.

Former Hoosier Logan Justus won the placekicking job during fall camp in 2018, leaving Campbell to redshirt during his first year in Bloomington. Looking back, Campbell believes it was for the best. Having a couple seasons to train and prepare in the background served him well, Campbell says, and he’s ready to put the lessons learned as a backup to good use this fall.

“I’m almost grateful I didn’t play my first two years in college,” Campbell said. “Looking at myself now compared to when I started college, I’m much more mature. I’m more mature and confident in my kicking, and I got to come in and learn how to handle myself and learn how to go out there and mature in my kicking, as opposed to when I was at 18 years old.”