Oliver Campbell surely had a list of in-state and regional colleges chasing his services, but one school has always been at the top of his list. The only question left to be answered was if they would have a similar interest in him.
“(UL Lafayette) is really the school I’ve been working toward for the past year, year-and-a-half,” Campbell said. “That’s where I’ve always wanted to go. They have a great program. They have a great coaching staff and everything.”
The Neville senior got a partial scholarship offer from the Ragin’ Cajuns and took it the next day, committing to UL Lafayette with the intention of taking advantage of baseball’s early signing period and signing in November.
His coach remembers his UL Lafayette aspirations from years ago.
“When Oliver was a sophomore, I sat him down and asked him what his goals were and went over his list of schools and UL Lafayette was one of the first ones he mentioned,” Paul Guerriero said. “I thought it was really neat for him to get an offer going into his senior season from a school that was at the top of his list. I’m really proud for him.”
Campbell added, “I didn’t really think they were going to offer me. I was hoping they would and they finally did.”
Guerriero thinks it is Campbell’s well-rounded game that attracted college programs to him, but it was his summer’s work on his fastball that made the Ragin’ Cajuns come with an offer.
“I think it’s everything about him more than one particular thing,” Guerriero said. “Oliver’s got a lot of the intangibles, he’s a competitor on the mound. One of the things some of these schools talked about with him was getting his velocity up and he worked really hard on that this summer.
“I think UL Lafayette liked him all the way and when he got his velocity up is when they got serious about wanting him. I think that’s something that’s going to be big for him.”
Campbell added, “I always kind of lacked that, just being a little lefty, so that’s what I’ve worked on all offseason. Hopefully I’m sitting at 86 and 87. My goal is to get up to 90, but I hit 87 this summer.”
Guerriero sees the potential for Campbell to be a member of the starting rotation for UL Lafayette in another run to the Super Regionals as it did last season, but also his potential to help them early.
“I think eventually he’ll be a starter for them, but the good thing going for him as a freshman is he’s a left-handed pitcher and they can use him out of the bullpen quickly,” Guerriero said. “He might be a guy that breaks into their program as a relief guy and eventually works his way into the rotation as a starter.
“If you go back and look at the big games Oliver has thrown over the last couple of years and they’ve been some of the best games he’s thrown. I think that’s something that our kids know when they take the field when he’s on the mound, I think it’s extremely important for a team to have a player like that.”
Campbell’s commitment to his school of choice is more than the relief of his next step being secured; now, he can let the recruiting process go and focus on his final season as a Neville Tiger.
“It’s a big relief, really. Now I can just play the game,” he said.
Guerriero added, “He can take a chance to just let it loose and not worry about what he’s going to do next year. It’s good for him to do it because he’s going to be big for us next year, for sure.”
Follow Brett on Twitter, @BHudsonTNS.