FRISCO, Texas (WOOD) — When Jayru Campbell came to Ferris State University to play Division II football, he wanted to be the best player on the field.
If life would have gone as planned, Campbell would be striving towards being the best player on the field for Michigan State and competing for a Heisman Trophy. Instead, he was named the Harlon Hill Trophy winner, the Division II Heisman.
The road to this point in Campbell’s career started when he was a high school student and high-profile recruit at Cass Tech in Detroit. In 2014, Campbell was seen on camera body slamming a school security guard to the ground.
The incident cost Campbell his scholarship to MSU and forced him to spend time in jail.
Instead of playing Big Ten football, Campbell had to go to junior college before eventually transferring to Ferris State, where head coach Tony Annese decided to give him a second chance.
“He’s committed to being the best he can be for this team, but before that could happen, he had to become the best person he could be away from the field,” Annese said. “That’s why I redshirted him.”
Senior wide receiver and Muskegon native Keyondre Craig said Campbell was easily accepted on the team.
“We knew he was a good player, he was a good kid, and a dog,” Craig said.
Campbell has made the most of his second chance, becoming the alpha dog leader for the Bulldogs.
“We had a practice … we were on the 40 and he was running full-speed on every play. I was in awe of how hard he works,” sophomore offensive lineman Jake Boonstra said of Campbell.
While his football career hasn’t played out the way he had envisioned as a four-star recruit in high school, the experience helped Campbell work towards realizing his potential on the field.
“I made some mistakes that caused me to go this route,” Campbell said. “But when I came to D-2, I had an extra chip on my shoulder. I wanted to be the best that I could be.”
Although he is a finalist for Division II’s best football player, Campbell is worried about his team’s goals.
“(I would rather win a) national championship, I would rather have a big ring,” he said. “Football is a team sport. It’s about winning to me.”