Divining out Devin Campbell's role in 2015, his senior season, would have been hard enough if his Buffalo team weren't also transitioning into a new coach. Unfortunately for the upperclassmen, returning starters across the offensive skill positions will likely keep Campbell's impact limited to the return game despite three years of production whenever he touches the ball.
Campbell made a name for himself as a freshman, stepping in for an injured Branden Oliver to run for over 500 yards on 115 carries while adding 20 catches and averaging over 20 yards per kick return - though he was just one part of a three-man rotation on that unit.
Despite averaging just shy of five yards a touch from scrimmage and over 20 yards per return that season, Campbell has never been able to establish himself as a bigger part of the UB attack. Though he's become the Bulls' primary kick returner, with 28 returns averaging more than 23 yards a chance each of the past two seasons, he also found himself phased out of UB's options from scrimmage, getting only 88 touches on offense over that same span.
Not that Campbell doesn't make the most of his limited opportunities. As a junior, he averaged 6.0 yards per touch when he got the chance. His body of work through the first half of his career compared favorably to Dri Archer's, but Jeff Quinn and Alex Wood seemed unable or unwilling to find a way to use him consistently and the comparison faded.
Now, UB begins the first year of the Lance Leipold era with a loaded magazine of options on offense. Jordan Johnson has emerged as the clear second option at running back, and with Devon Hughes the only receiver lost to graduation, Joe Licata will have plenty of options. Looking at the distribution of touches in Wisconsin-Whitewater's 2014 offense, Campbell may get a few more chances to run the ball as Leipold and Offensive Andy Kotelnicki bring their "Pound the Rock" mantra to Amherst, but likely a good deal fewer as a passcatcher, despite four receiving touchdown last season.
Of course, considering the state of the Buffalo defense last year, Campbell will have plenty of chances to help the team in the one area he's truly made himself indispensable. If only there were available highlight videos anywhere:
Great KR by Devin Campbell gives UB ball at CMU 23 yard line. 69 yard return— Howard WGR (@hsimon62) October 25, 2014
Devin Campbell 96-yard kickoff return for a UB TOUCHDOWN with 4:18 left in the 2Q. PAT good. UB 28, EMU 7. #EMUvUB— Rodney McKissic (@RodneyMcKissic) October 5, 2013
Make no mistake: Campbell didn't make this list because the voters recognized his potential from scrimmage, but because he's established himself as one of the elite return men in the conference. Even criminally underused as a junior, he still found a way to contribute just short of 100 all-purpose yards per game.
After two years of making the most of limited opportunities, there's no reason to think he won't do the same in 2015.