PLANTATION, Fla. – Tyson Campbell is aptly named.
American Heritage’s 6-2½, 180-pound senior is the third-ranked cornerback in the nation and is ranked 20th among all players, according to 247Sports.
But Campbell is more than just a cover corner.
Tyson will knock you out, too.
“He was the best tackler we had on our team last year when he played safety,” said Heritage defensive coordinator Chad Wilson, a former Miami Hurricanes cornerback. “He made solid tackles. He also made blow-up tackles when we needed them.”
Campbell would be the best cornerback prospect on every team in the football-rich state of Florida … except for American Heritage.
That’s because the Patriots play Patrick Surtain Jr. on the left side and Campbell on the right. Surtain just happens to be the No. 1 cornerback prospect in the nation.
Both are tall – Surtain is listed at 6-2 – and neither has yet chosen a college, although Campbell has cut his list to seven schools. Those seven, in the order mentioned by Campbell, are Florida State, Florida, Miami, Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson.
The 247 Sports “crystal ball” has it a dead heat between Miami and Ohio State, but all Campbell would say is that he would decide at some point during the 2017 season.
In the meantime, Campbell is enjoying his return to cornerback. He moved to safety last year at the request of coaches because the Patriots, who went on to win their third Class 5A state title in the past four years, were loaded at cornerback.
“I don’t know if (safety) was necessarily what he wanted to do (last) season,” Wilson said. “But given the talent we had, that was the best place to use him. I think he gained a different perspective by being that deep guy back there.
“Now he’s bringing his extreme athleticism to the cornerback spot. The fact that he can play all four (secondary) positions really helps.”
Campbell, who has a 3.2 grade-point average and is interested in majoring in business, pharmacy or sports management, said he trusted his coaches when they suggested last year’s position switch.
“My sophomore year, they started me at nickel and at corner,” Campbell said. “I knew if I (were) patient, I would (eventually) play the position I want (cornerback). This year, I’m fully at corner, and I can work on things. I feel like this season will be big for me.”
It certainly could be, considering Heritage returns 6-2, 220-pound defensive end Andrew Chatfield and 6-2, 310-pound defensive tackle Nesta Silvera.
Chatfield, who reopened his recruitment late Monday, was the Sun Sentinel Defensive Player of the Year after posting 24 ½ sacks in 2016 and leading the team with 81 tackles. He had two of his sacks in the state final.
Silvera, a Miami Hurricanes recruit, applies pressure up the middle, which helps Campbell and Surtain. The less time a quarterback has to throw, the more they tend to fire a pass up for grabs … and into the arms of elite defensive backs.
“If you double team me, then you have to worry about (Silvera) getting loose,” Chatfield said. “And you don’t want him to get loose (at 310 pounds). You would rather me get there before him.”
Chatfield said Campbell had a lot of doubters early in his career.
But that is no longer the case.
“Tyson is a dog – he’s coming to hit you, tackle you, everything,” Chatfield said. “He doesn’t care how you feel about him. He’s coming out there to ball.
“His tackles saved us a lot last year. When someone broke free, and they were about to score a touchdown, Tyson would run him down and probably cause a fumble.”
Wilson, although he runs the defense, said he won’t mind if head coach Patrick Surtain Sr. puts his son and Campbell at wide receiver on occasion.
“If nothing else,” Wilson said, “it will scare the hell out of other teams.”