NFL Draft: Campbell, Fields took long road from Pitt
The crop of local prospects on the radar of NFL teams features two players who started at Pitt but have taken long detours to their destinations as possible NFL draft picks.
"Tommie Campbell and Elijah Fields both have a lot of upside potential because of their athleticism and speed," said local NFL scout Joe Butler. "But Fields hasn't played since the 2009 season and Campbell doesn't have a lot of experience at his current position, safety, so it will be interesting to see what their opportunities are."
Both are former Panthers who were kicked off the team for violating team rules. Questions about character follow them.
Campbell had the chance this past year to show he has matured. Campbell, an Aliquippa High graduate, played for Pitt from 2005-07 but was suspended indefinitely by Dave Wannstedt for several violations of team policies. He transferred to Edinboro in 2007 but failed there academically.
California University of Pennsylvania came calling, and he played safety for the Vulcans in 2010 so well that he earned a spot in the Cactus Bowl, which is the NCAA Division II version of the Senior Bowl.
Butler said Campbell's size (6 feet 2, 210 pounds) and speed means he could get drafted in a later round and if he isn't drafted, he'll end up in a camp as a free agent.
"He ran upper 4.3 seconds for pro scouts -- that puts anybody in the ballgame," Butler said. "Those two years off hurt him from an experience standpoint, but because of his athletic ability and speed, someone will give him a shot."
Fields, from Duquesne High, played at Pitt from 2006-09 and had a year of eligibility remaining when he was kicked off the team a year ago for team rules violations, including a failed drug test.
Fields, a defensive back, did not play last season but worked out for pro scouts this year. Butler said his size (6-1, 220), athleticism and speed (he has been clocked sub 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash) will likely get him into a camp.
Two of the other best prospects who are graduates of the WPIAL or City League are former North Allegheny standout Tom Keiser and former Seneca Valley star Brandon Fusco.
Keiser (6-5, 261) was a linebacker/defensive end at Stanford who could be selected as high as the third round because of his pass rushing ability. Fusco (6-4, 308), an offensive lineman who played at Slippery Rock, is projected anywhere from the fourth to sixth rounds.
Other prospects include:
Darrin Walls, defensive back, Woodland Hills and Notre Dame.
Archie Donald, linebacker, Penn Hills and Toledo.
Max Suter, kick returner/safety, Greensburg Central Catholic and Syracuse.
Monte Simmons, defensive end/linebacker, Woodland Hills and Kent State.
Davonte Shannon, defensive back, Jeannette and Buffalo.
Terrence McCrae, receiver, Connellsville and Ohio.
Pat Illig, offensive lineman, Central Catholic and Wofford.
First Published April 27, 2011 12:00 am