HOUSTON - A day after the Pac-12 Conference pushed its 2020 football season to the spring, now so has one of the country's top recruits.
The next time fans see Brandon Campbell step onto a football field it will not be for the Katy Tigers - the program he transferred to this summer - instead it will be for the University of Southern California.
Campbell, a four-star running back prospect in the Class of 2021, announced via his Twitter account Wednesday night that he has decided to forego his senior season and instead prepare to early enroll at USC.
"It was always a thought," Campbell said in a phone interview with VYPE. "The Pac-12 season moving played a role in my decision but it has been something that has been in my head. When [the UIL] pushed back our season that's what made me really think about it. Risking a chance on injury before I got there in January would somewhat defeat the purpose of me getting up there early."
Campbell becomes the first high-profile recruit in the Houston-area to opt-out of their season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Campbell currently lives with his mother, Angela Green. It is just the two of them at home and Campbell admitted the thought of bringing the virus into the house was also on his mind.
"To me, that would be devastating," Campbell said. "She's a big piece in my life."
When Campbell came to this decision after talking to his parents, the newly minted Katy Tiger wanted to go about this the right way.
The USC-commit reached out USC running backs coach Mike Jinks, who recruited him, and then reached out to Katy head coach Gary Joseph to let them know "where my head was".
"He respected my decision," Campbell said about his conversation with Joseph. "I had missed a few practices because my mom and just had a surgery, so I was talking to him about that. He's been completely understanding through the whole thing.
"When I told him, he was upset to hear but he told me he respects my decision and respected me for me being upfront about it and letting him know. It shows a lot of character."
Knowing the history of the Katy running backs, including his cousin Deondrick Glass being one of the most recent stars to tote the rock, not getting to play for Katy this season is disappointing for Campbell.
"It hurts a little bit," Campbell said. "But I'm also excited that this is not the last time I'm going to be able to play ... But I am disappointed to see my high school career to come to a close."
Some of Campbell's new teammates, and fellow high-profile recruits, tweeted their support of the decision, including Bobby Taylor: "Wish we could've played together. All love family, do what's best for you and your future."
Florida State-commit Hunter Washington, who is also entering his senior year at Katy, also tweeted: "All love family."
Seeing that support from some of his best friends on and off the field, Campbell admitted meant a lot.
"Hunter and Bobby are two of the guys I'm closest with on the team," Campbell said. "I've known Hunter since the fourth or fifth grade. Bobby and I are close as well, we hang out all the time, probably every day. I'm glad they're in my corner. It means a lot, they understand where I'm coming from."
Campbell played his junior season for Pearland. In 11 games for the Oilers, Campbell registered 116 carries for 879 yards and 18 touchdowns. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry and 79.9 yards per game for Pearland. Prior to his junior year, Campbell spent his freshman season at Mayde Creek and sophomore year at Katy Taylor.
According to 24/7 Sports, Campbell is the 14th-ranked running back in the Class of 2021 in the country and the third-best from Texas in that list.
So, if the Pac-12 does indeed play a season in the spring, Campbell could potentially see the gridiron.
In recent conversations with Jinks, which came after the Pac-12 decision, Campbell he said he was told they are going to treat it like a regular spring for the early enrollees.
"We are going to be able to come in there and still workout, still take classes," Campbell said. "The only difference is, they are going to be playing football around that time. They said you'd probably be able to travel with the team and get a feel for everything. [Jinks] did say if they did let us play in the spring, if I was ready and they feel like I'm ready to go, they'd definitely stick me in there."
Brandon Campbell is heading back home to Katy.
The four-star running back grew up in Katy, playing for Mayde Creek High School as a freshman then to Katy Taylor High School as a sophomore. He then transferred to play at Pearland as a junior, moved in to Lamar Consolidated High School six months ago and has now enrolled at Katy High School.
"I've been raised in Katy since the second grade," he said. "It's really my mom. This move gets us closer to my mom's job. I'll be graduating early and this will also get me prepared for college."
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound back was a first-team, all-district selection for the Oilers and racked up over 1,100 yards of total offense in 2019.
"Playing at Pearland really go me out of my comfort zone," he said. "I grew as a player and a person. I played against different people having grown up in Katy. It was a great experience."
He committed to USC over the weekend, passing on the likes of LSU, Alabama, Florida, TCU and Penn State.
Blessed To Be In The Position I'm In..
No Turning Back, I'm All In Till It's Over
C O M M I T T E D‼️🦍 #RunBC
🎥: @MillGraphics pic.twitter.com/Y7zWEbyxzE
— Brandon (BC) Campbell 4🌟 RB (@2021BC) March 29, 2020
"I'm working on getting mentally and physically ready for college," he said. "I'd love to get to USC in January and compete for the starting spot as a freshman."
"I really love the coaching staff with Coach (Clay) Helton and Coach (Mike) Jenks," he said. "But you can't really choose a school by the coaching staff. Coaches move around. I chose a school for need. USC has a need at running back in the future and I want to be that guy. I don't think that will change."
Campbell comes from an athletically-rich family. His dad Kevin Campbell played basketball for Converse Judson and then the University of Virginia, while his mom ran track at UTSA. His uncle on his mom's side is Rogerick Green, who played DB in the NFL for four years.
"If feel like I'm truly an every-down back," he said. "Some backs can run or catch or block. I pride myself on being versatile and doing everything well. I really like to watch Saquan Barkley, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey on film. I like to break down their games and see how they carry themselves on and off the field. They have great character and that plays into what type of football player you are."
For now, Campbell hopes to be the next in a line of talented Katy running back. However, he will have to face his old buddies at Taylor during the season.
"My goal as a senior is to become a better leader, contribute and be the best player I can be," he said. "Sure, I'm still friends with the guys at Taylor. We grew up together. We've all been playing against each other in this district going back to youth football. It will be fun. We are all just down the street from each other and no one is scared of anyone."