April 18, 2008

Campbell coping with emotional spring

As the leader of a defense wracked in disappointment during the end of Kansas State's 5-7 season last fall, two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection Ian Campbell understands adversity. But the senior defensive end encountered personal struggles much greater this spring in dealing with the loss of two family members in a two-week period. Instead of allowing the emotional toll to linger, he has bounced back and hopes to deliver a memorable outing in the Purple-White spring game on Saturday.

"The last two practices have been my best," Campbell said, "so hopefully my spring game is even better."

Since K-State started spring practice on March 29, Campbell, a native of Cimarron, has suffered the death of an aunt, Barb Froelich, and his grandmother, Leitha Campbell. Both lived in Kansas. Without getting into specifics, Campbell said his grandmother died the day of his aunt's funeral. He added that both deaths were unexpected.

"They weren't sick," he said. "It was unexpected, both of them were. It was difficult. Everybody has to face things in life. It's how you handle it."

Campbell, who said he missed one class and a total of three days of practice to tend to family matters, said he appreciated the support of his teammates and coaches during the process, adding that it was important for him refocus on football.

"I didn't want to be gone any longer than I had to because it's good to be busy and to be back," he said. "I feel good about everything now."

K-State coach Ron Prince during a news conference on Thursday commended Campbell on his ability to cope with the situations, adding, "I have no concerns about how he'll move forward."

"He's a very subtle person in that he knows what he wants to be but his circumstances have been very unsubtle off of the field," Prince said. "I spend as much time with him as any single player on the team because of the relationship that we have. He's very focused on doing well and being well, which is what my focus with him as been about."

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