Cass Tech junior quarterback Jayru Campbell completed 13 of 17 passes for 198 yards last Friday in the Technicians’ 32-6 victory against Renaissance.
But, not to downplay his aerial accuracy, it was Campbell’s 32-yard touchdown run that magnified his versatility and demonstrated his toughness as one of main leaders of the back-to-back Division 1 defending state champions.
“I think I’m playing well individually, but I think we’re playing even better as a team,’’ said Campbell, the Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week.
“I’m especially loving the offensive line this year. They’re young and were doubted a lot when the season started because we didn’t have any returning starters on the offensive line. But they have really stepped up and done their thing.”
While Campbell is understandably pleased with the protection he’s getting up front, Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher is just as impressed with the progress Campbell continues to make as one of the country’s most polished high school QBs.
As a freshman, Campbell guided the Technicians to their first of two consecutive state championships. Though still just 16, he’s now a seasoned veteran and virtually a coach on the field.
“He understands the offense better and he controls the offense better,” Wilcher said. “He understands how to call the cadence, he can change plays and he puts us in the right position. He knows everything.
“He’s just real comfortable out there. He’s not jittery. He knows how to check down and he can step back in the pocket and allow guys to come in there and he’s still effective. He moves his feet a lot. He can score with his feet and with his arm. That’s what makes him so tough to stop.”
Campbell’s dual threat was in evidence last Friday when he saw a pass play break down and made it result in a 32-yard TD run against Renaissance.
“I rolled out to the left and nobody was open,” he said. “There were three people about to tackle me, so I spun and reversed field and went to the right. Then, near the goal line, I saw two dudes in front of me. I pretty much jumped over them. I put my foot in one guy’s chest and climbed over him and flipped and landed on my head.”
Though he’s always reminded of his value to the team and the need to stay healthy, Campbell, a muscular 6-4, 200 pounds, is willing to put his body on the line if that’s what it takes to move the offense.
“If I could go back, I’d probably do it a different way,” he said of his touchdown run. “But it was in the heat of the moment. We were all out there having fun.”
Campbell was picked by his peers as one of four team captains. Leadership, he and his coach agree, is the one area where he’s made the most improvement. “I’ve improved with my speed and some other things, but I’ve improved especially at being a leader and looking at the defense and calling the right plays,’’ Campbell said.
With still another year of high school remaining after this one, Campbell has already committed to Michigan State, where he plans to major in Journalism and realize his goal of playing D-1 football. The Spartans wear the same green and white colors as his Technicians, but Campbell felt MSU was a perfect fit for him all the way around.
“The Michigan State coaching staff was real cool,’’ he said. “I like them a whole bunch. I love the environment of the school and the campus. I just fit in there.”
He says committing early has helped him focus on high school. “I don’t have to worry about other colleges coming after me, even though they still are,” Campbell said, laughing. “But I’m not going to change my mind. Go Green!”
With a chance to win a third consecutive Division 1 state championship, Cass Tech has set a standard by which other PSL elite teams will be measured. As a quarterback with two state championships and a chance to win two more, Campbell is in rare air, indeed.
“If Jayru continues down the path he’s going, continuing to build himself socially, mentally and physically, he has chance to be one of the best if not the best to ever come out of Cass Tech,” Wilcher said.
The Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week award is representative of the league’s top boys and girls athletes. The award is presented by the DPS Office of Athletics and sponsored for the fourth year in a row by Detroit-area McDonald’s owner-operators.