It wasn't long ago that the name Matty Campbell echoed through the nighttime air at 's Tozier-Cassidy field. The announcer pretty much knew who was involved in the play before it even happened, as AHS's Campbell dominated the field on offense, defense and all phases of the game.
Few high school athletes get the chance to play college football at any level, but Matty Campbell had the skill, the drive and the full scholarship offer from Division 1 University of Massachusetts Amherst to make it happen, and now he's hoping to make a name for himself as a Minuteman. Campbell was in Foxboro as the Minutemen prepared to play against the University of New Hampshire in the game known as the Colonial Clash at
Getting onto the field at UMass was a slow process however, as Campell had to come back from a devastating ankle injury suffered during his senior year at AHS. "I dislocated my ankle during basketball practice my senior year and it has taken almost a year for it to heal," Campbell said.
Campbell didn't play at all last season and now plays as a "redshirt freshman". This means that while academically a sophomore, he won't lose out on a year of football due to his injury and will have a fifth year of eligibility. "I'll be able to play even if I've graduated, as long I'm doing post-graduate coursework," he said.
Campbell, listed at 6'1", 230 lbs explained that the college game is vastly different than playing in high school. "High school players can often get away with just being a little more athletic than their opponent," Campbell said. "Here at Umass everyone on the field was the best player at his school, so you have to be a student of the game at a different level."
"In high school I played on both sides of the ball, but at Umass I've been playing on kickoff returns and field goals and am starting at fullback on goal line situations," he said. "The coaches move you into whatever position they think best matches your skills and it's non-negotiable."
Practice sessions call for a 6am wakeup with breakfast served at the football stadium. Then there's film study with those sessions lasting from 1-2 hours.
"Football practice is almost a full-time job," Campbell said. "There are some days I just want to fall asleep early, but schoolwork has to get done and here at Umass they care tremendously about an athlete's academic success."
The athlete is currently taking four classes at four credits each. This is well over the required minimum for student/athletes. "Umass provides us with academic advisors and requires us to attend at least six hours of study hall weekly," Campbell said. "They also provide us with tutors when needed."
He's currently fulfilling many of his general education requirements but hasn't declared a major yet. U.S. History, however, is one of his favorite subjects.
Campbell is excited about Umass' move to the Mid-American Conference next year, with all home games being played at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. "I think it's awesome that we're moving to the MAC because now we'll finally be able to play teams from the highest level of competition," Campbell said. "Next year my goal is to have a starting role on the team."
Matty's dad, Peter Campbell shared his son's sentiment regarding the MAC move and Gillette Stadium home games. "As a family we're 100 percent excited to have Matty playing so close to home, but more importantly we're excited for Matty and his teammates," he said. "We couldn't be prouder of him and what he's accomplished. "He worked his way into this, lifting weights, running and working on conditioning."
"Another thing about Matty is that he's not egotistical at all, he's very down to earth and is well-liked as a person," Peter Campbell added. "Matty has learned a lot about life from his sister (who has special needs) and he knows that even after a football defeat there are things in life that are just much more important."