WINSTON-SALEM — Michael Campanaro didn’t become Wake Forest’s top receiver overnight – it just looks that way.
Instead, Campanaro said it took a lot of work with quarterback Tanner Price to become the go-to guy in the Deacons’ passing attack.
Campanaro – or “Camp,” as his coaches and teammates call him – averages 8.0 catches per game, tied for 10th in the nation.
Florida State held him in check Saturday – just two catches for 8 yards – but the previous week Campanaro had career highs in receptions (13) and yards (164). That earned him another career first – his first ACC Receiver of the Week award.
“It takes a lot of time during the offseason,” Campanaro said. “Doing 7-on-7 (drills), stuff like that, just working with Tanner all the time. We’re working together all the time – watching film, seeing how we can attack defenses.
“We have a great relationship on and off the field. You can definitely see it out there.”
Yet moving to the slot receiver position would appear to have been a big adjustment for Campanaro, a state champion running back at Clarksville (Md.) River Hill High.
Instead, he picked up on the needs of the position quickly – not just the physical aspect, where slot receivers often work the middle of the field and take hits from bigger linebackers, but the mental side, as well.
“Mike’s a quick kid,” said Deacons receivers coach Lonnie Galloway, who tried to recruit Campanaro at West Virginia when he was an assistant coach there. “He just has a knack and the quickness and speed to get to places and see how defenders are playing him.”
That is one of the first things Florida State’s coaches noticed about Campanaro in studying tapes before their game last Saturday.
“The guy is a heckuva football player,” Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. “You can see the intelligence level and the football instincts. Those good slot guys, it’s not only athleticism, but they’ve got to understand where the hole is. Inside there’s just so many different combinations of things that can happen. The guy’s got just a great understanding of it all.”
After being used primarily as a punt and kick return specialist his redshirt freshman year, Campanaro became the No. 2 receiver beside Chris Givens (now with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams). That year, he caught 73 passes for 833 yards and two touchdowns as he and Givens (83 catches, 1,330 yards) became the most productive receivers in Wake Forest history.
“Camp’s got great hands, and he can take advantage of a great throw,” Deacons coach Jim Grobe said. “Camp knows that if he can get open, Tanner will put the ball on him; Tanner knows that if he makes the good throw, Camp’s going to catch it.”