NFL Draft Prospect Interview – Michael Campanaro, WR Wake Forest

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Oct 26, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons wide receiver Michael Campanaro (3) catches a touchdown pass as Miami Hurricanes defensive back Deon Bush (2) defends in the second quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

PS: How much work do you put in just on your feet when it comes to your route running?

MC: Before I work out, I start everything out with my feet.  I’ll do ladders and then I’ll do cone drills.  Nothing too far down the field; just a lot of short stuff with cone drills and ladders and I do that before every leg workout in the weight room, I’ll do that, and every time I hit the field, I’ll do that.  I put a pretty big emphasis on it.  I use it a lot to warm up, but I also put a big emphasis on keeping my feet quick and staying in and out of your break.

PS: Watching you down in Mobile, when Coach (Terry) Robiskie was putting you all through drills, you seemed at home.

MC: Yea, yea.  Ladder drills, I do those all the time.  I felt comfortable doing those.  He actually had me leading them off.  He just told me, just do whatever you usually do with ladders, and the guys will just follow.  Some of the drills, I just knew off of the top of my head, so I felt pretty comfortable doing that.

PS: When a coach of an NFL team, in this case the Atlanta Falcons, says that to you, what does that mean to you?

MC: I felt good.  It was good that I was so comfortable with ladders, because if he told me to lead off and I didn’t know any ladder drills, I would have looked kind of dumb, but it was cool.  Coach Robiskie was a great coach all week.  I had a lot of fun with him.  He taught me a lot.  He definitely helped with running deeper routes and things.  He teaches Roddy White and Julio (Jones) and we’re getting the same kind of teaching, so it was good stuff.

PS: I’ve said on multiple occasions I could watch you run whip routes for an hour. It seems like you run it about half a dozen ways.

MC: It just depends on the coverage for us.  Sometimes, we have a choice route on it, so it just depends on how the coverage is.  And my senior year, the coaching staff gave me a lot of freedom because I’ve built up some confidence from the coaching staff, they gave me some freedom with it.  As long as I’m on the same page as Tanner, it just depends on the coverage on how we’re going to run the route and it’s up to me, running the right read on what I’m going to do with it.

PS: Is your read dependent entirely on the coverage or is there a certain amount of feel and instinct based on how the game has progressed and what an opponent is showing you?

MC: You have to read the coverage and you have to know leverages on how guys are playing you and getting a feel on how they’ve been playing you.  And that just goes in with film study throughout the game; just understanding how they’re playing you and knowing leverages on guys.  A lot goes into routes like that for them to be successful.

PS: How much confidence do you have when it seems like you can go into a situation where you can basically tell the opponent you’re going to beat him in what basically amounts to a 5 yard box all game?

MC: When I get matched up with some of those linebackers and bigger safeties, it’s definitely a mismatch and I think teams realize that.  I know a lot of the time, I started seeing some of the best corners get dropped down on me in there.  I still feel confident in that 5 yard, like you said, box; just being quicker than the guy and outsmarting him as well.

PS: How tired did those tall corners get seeing you down in Mobile?  All of those long, rangy corners were on the same team as you were, so they saw you all week long in practice.

MC: I remember listening to someone like Richard Sherman, they asked him which receiver he likes to go against and he said he doesn’t like going against the smaller, craftier, unorthodox guys and I think that’s what my team had a lot of.  We had a lot of 6’ and under guys who were just quick and just different in their routes compared to bigger and longer guys.  They were probably a little frustrated, but some of those DBs over there had really good weeks.

PS: Do you feel like you’re being pigeonholed in terms of what you can do in the slot?   You obviously can work underneath but you do have your share of plays attacking down the seam.

MC: Yea, I think that was the biggest thing I wanted to show teams in the NFL that I think I can play a good amount of outside, but haven’t really had the opportunities at Wake because I was just called upon to run that slot and that’s what our offense was based out of.  I think when they put on the tape from the Senior Bowl practice tape and some game tape, they’ll see me getting behind DBs and the secondary.

PS: What do you hang your hat on in your game?

MC: I feel I can be an every down receiver.  When we need a big play on crucial third downs, I feel like I’m definitely a guy that a quarterback can count on to come to.  I just think I have an understanding of defenses and know where the weak spot is in defenses are.  I have a real good feel for just getting open and just being there for the quarterback when things break down.  I feel like I can be the go to guy.

PS: How do you rate yourself as a blocker?

MC: I feel like I’m willing.  I feel like I block well I think.  My junior year once I broke my hand, I wasn’t the best blocker, but I remember sophomore year, I was called upon more to do more blocking than I was junior and senior year.  They would design plays so that someone would have go crack on the backers and I was always the guy who was called upon to do that, so I think my coaches definitely know I’m willing to go in there and put my nose in there against anybody.

PS: You guys all lost your excuse on blocking when Jalen Saunders was one of the best blockers in the country at 160lbs.

MC: (Laughs) Yea.  Blocking’s just a want to; you either want to do it or you don’t, so that’s what it comes down to.

PS: After the injury, how did your role during your senior year change?

MC: Really, my role became trying to speed like Jared Crump on my position.  He was probably our second best receiver and he played the outside and they moved him inside to my position.  I was just helping him with the new routes he was gonna be running and the playbook altogether, because he was a freshman.  I was at practice, not just in a sling, but helping him out if he had any questions, helping him in skelly and team and things like that.