It’s safe to say NuNu Campbell will always remember his 18th birthday.
The senior football standout and his Holland Hall teammates played one of its biggest rivals that day, Cascia Hall, and Campbell responded with two touchdowns as the Dutchmen claimed a convincing 45-7 victory.
To cap off the celebratory weekend, the three-star rated defensive back committed to the University of Tulsa, marking the second straight year a Holland Hall player has pledged to play for the Golden Hurricane. All-State defensive lineman Owen Ostroski committed to TU last year.
“Every year since 8th grade, my birthday has been two days before the Cascia Hall game,” stated Campbell, who attended East Central schools before transferring to Holland Hall in middle school. “I didn’t even realize this year’s game was actually on my birthday until sometime this summer. So, I’d been waiting for that day.”
Getting his college recruitment over with was a relief for Campbell. Now he can focus all of his efforts on the remainder of his senior season.
“I just felt like it was the right time,” admitted Campbell, who claimed six college offers at the time of his commitment. “I didn’t want to spend the rest of my football season thinking about where I was going. I’m not just going there to play football. I want to get a degree too. I feel like TU was the best situation to do that.”
The Dutchmen lost several key offensive players from last year’s first-ever state championship team. Campbell has been a bright spot for the offense after primarily playing on the defensive side of the ball last season.
“I was just telling the guys, ‘Dang, I should have been playing receiver since my freshman year,’” said Campbell with a smile. “I started out at running back my first two years and then my junior year I didn’t play too much on offense.”
Campbell has taken advantage of those offensive opportunities. He’s a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
“He loves to compete,” commented Gross. “He has great explosiveness and leadership. I’ve watched him emerge as a leader. If I walk over and tell him one thing, he can get the whole team to do it. He’s that kind of leader.”
As defending state champs, the Dutchmen have gone from being the hunter to the hunted. Campbell knows other teams are out to knock them off this season.
“I feel like in order to do what we did last year, we have to keep that hunter mindset,” admitted Campbell. “You can’t be satisfied with what you’ve got. If we can get the whole team thinking that we’re still fighting for something, things will turn out great.”
Campbell gets the opportunity to showcase his talents this week when Holland Hall plays another crosstown rival, Metro Christian, Friday night live on Cox’s YurView Channel 3. This Ford Game of the Week will also be streamed online.
It’s a highly-anticipated showdown between the defending 2A & 3A state champions. Holland Hall won last year’s early-season matchup, 42-7, but Metro Christian won the two previous meetings in convincing fashion.
“Metro is a great team and they’re well coached,” remarked Campbell. “They’re the two-time state champions. That’s what we want to be. We’re going to battle against a good team. We’re going to do what we’ve been working on Sunday thru Thursday and put it all together on Friday and have a great outcome.”