July 24, 2007

Campbell set to play key role again

There are many ways to measure Ian Campbell's importance to Kansas State's success; here's one. An argument can be made that the Wildcats' three worst performances in 2006 were losses to Baylor (17-3), Kansas (39-20) and Rutgers (37-10). In each of those defeats K-State's star defensive end was held without a sack, something that happened just four times in 13 contests a year ago.

The other sackless game for Campbell came against hapless Florida Atlantic, an outing in which the Wildcats needed little help from the 6-foot-5 defender. It's likely not a coincidence that the games in which Campbell was able to notch a sack and put constant pressure on the quarterback saw the Wildcats regularly emerge victorious.

For that reason Campbell earns the No. 3 spot on our list of most important Wildcats for 2007.

Nearly half (5.5) of Campbell's 11.5 sacks came in non-conference games against Illinois State, Marshall and Louisville, but Campbell was still plenty productive in conference play. Campbell delivered a sack in six of eight league games last season and heads into 2007 as the Wildcats' top pass rusher and possibly the most feared in the Big 12.

Unlike last year, however, teams will know about Campbell as soon as the year kicks off. Illinois State didn't have an idea of what to expect from the former walk-on in the '06 opener and allowed Campbell to sack their signal caller three times in a one-point loss to the Wildcats. It didn't take long for teams to take notice.

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