Devonte Campbell is still around Maryland after all this time.
He still looks the part of the field-stretching tight end the Terrapins figured he would be when they first got him to sign more than five years ago.
And he still has just 10 receptions, 84 yards and two touchdowns to show for his trouble.
Campbell’s work this spring offers hope things his final season with the Terps will unfold differently, that at long last his production will be more in line with expectations from so long ago they might have receded from the memories of some Maryland fans.
“I don’t think people have forgotten,” Campbell said. “I just think I haven’t really showed it. I just think people know I can do it, and my coaches believe in me and every day they try to push me. It’s not so much forgotten. It’s just so much it hasn’t been seen, hasn’t been unleashed, whether it’s my fault or whatnot. It’s still there.”
The Terps, coming off a 2-10 season, can only hope so. Gone is the spread offense of former offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. In its place is the more pro-style (read: tight end-friendly) system of new coordinator Mike Locksley.
Fellow senior Matt Furstenburg also returns at tight end, and he established himself as a capable possession receiver a year ago. Campbell, meanwhile, remains a tempting downfield threat at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds.
Tempting, yes, but his production to date also tempers hopes. Campbell originally signed in 2007, attended prep school for a year and redshirted the next. He started four games in 2009, then missed the first month of his sophomore season with a knee injury and caught only one pass all year.
Last fall wasn’t much better. Campbell caught only four passes and never more than one in a game. His longest gain was 18 yards, hardly a vertical menace to opposing defenses.
But something’s changed this spring. Campbell concedes he’s more open-minded and driven than in past years, and he’s also healthy. So far, it’s a good combination as Maryland inches closer to Saturday’s spring game at Byrd Stadium.
“The biggest thing I can say is he’s a lot quicker and a lot faster,” wide receiver Kevin Dorsey said. “Already being one of the fastest tight ends helps. I remember the first day of spring ball, he caught the ball and he turned upfield and it was like ‘Wow.’ It hit me, and I was a guy who was working out with him this entire time. I was like ‘God, he’s fast.’ “
Speed is one area that isn’t a concern for Campbell. Last spring, he produced the third-best 40-yard dash time for a tight end in school history (4.58 seconds), behind only eventual pros Vernon Davis and Ferrell Edmunds.
Campbell inevitably was compared to Davis, who departed Maryland after the 2005 season, during the early stages in his career. There haven’t been many similarities between their careers, though Campbell has taken steps this spring to leave an imprint on the program.
“He has really good ability, and you start to see that coming out,” coach Randy Edsall said. “Now what he’s got to continually do is be more consistent. But he’s much different.”
Campbell, though, knows that will only matter if it translates into his final season in College Park.