On the receiving end

BY RYAN YOUNG | OCTOBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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In 2008, Kirk Ferentz reeled in an underrated running back, a dependable backup offensive lineman, and two three-star quarterbacks.

He also brought in a longtime Michigan man two years after Lloyd Carr and the second-ranked Wolverines bullied the Hawkeyes on national TV in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Although, Erik Campbell, a 1988 Michigan graduate and Wolverine assistant from 1995-2007, walked into Ferentz’s recruiting cross hairs serendipitously following the retirement of both Carr and Iowa running-back coach Carl Jackson.

“I just happened to be watching the Capital One Bowl, and it dawned on me,” Ferentz said. “I called [the Wolverines’] office the day after, two days after — whenever it would have been — to see if he would be interested, and he was.

“Everything was check, check, check.”

Campbell’s job history certainly deserved high marks.

Following four seasons as a letterman for Michigan, the Wolverine receiver and defensive back served as a student assistant in 1988 before accepting a job with the U.S. Naval Academy as the running-back coach the following year. Six season later, Campbell returned to the Maize and Blue to coach the Wolverine receivers.

During that time, he coached three All-Americans in David Terrell, Marquise Walker, and Braylon Edwards, a Heisman Trophy winner in Charles Woodson, and former New York Giant and current Kansas City Chief Amani Toomer — a much distinguished résumé that his Hawkeye pupils admire.

But they also appreciate the Donald Trump-like attitude Campbell brings to games and practices — minus the misshapen comb-over of course.

“He is pretty much about business,” Iowa senior receiver Trey Stross said. “And if you do slip up, it is almost like you get fired a little bit. He’ll punish you. He’ll treat you like an adult, which I like.”

So far, several wideouts have been on the receiving end of Campbell’s no-nonsense approach.

Several split ends have shifted not only up and down but in and out of the Hawkeye two-deep each week — most notably, junior Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who led Iowa with three touchdowns and 639 yards receiving on 44 catches in 2008 but has yet to start a game this season.

Regardless, Stross also recognizes Campbell’s more light-hearted side, recalling his first interaction with the native of Gary, Ind.

“When I was a true freshman and we played Michigan in Kinnick, we were doing the stretches across the field, and one of the coaches — I swear it was Coach Campbell — he was like, ‘Are you scared or something?’ ” Stross said. “And I was like, ‘No, I’m not scared. I’m from Ohio.’ ”

History aside, the members of the Iowa receiving corps guarantee Campbell won’t let his Michigan ties interfere with the Hawkeyes’ Homecoming hopes of going 6-0 and potentially becoming the first Big Ten squad to secure bowl eligibility.

“I know he would love to win this game, obviously, because that was his alma matter,” sophomore Marvin McNutt said. “At the same time, he’s going to treat this game just like he treats every other game and try to be the best-prepared coach on the field for us. He’s going to try to put us in the best position to win.”

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