When the XFL reboots this weekend, it will give another shot at a professional football career to hundreds of players across the country.
Including George Campbell. He signed with Florida State out of Tarpon Springs’ East Lake High as a five-star recruit before transferring to West Virginia. He had brief stints with the New York Jets and in the CFL but had been out of the game for more than a year before earning a spot on the St. Louis Battlehawks — a team coached by former Bucs tight end Anthony Becht. They’ll debut Sunday against the San Antonio Brahmas.
The Tampa Bay Times caught up with Campbell recently for a Q&A, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
How did this opportunity come about?
I heard about the XFL making a comeback. Really just one of those opportunities where I saw that they were having a combine (at Bradenton’s IMG Academy). I saw that they were kind of going through the logistics and trying to get everything together and get their players around. I was able to get to the combine, did pretty good at the combine with the numbers and catching the ball. Then I thankfully was invited to a private workout for the Battlehawks with Coach Becht and the staff here.
What did you do in the time between CFL and the combine?
A lot of busy work. I was helping out with some kids back home locally, mentoring and working at a rec center (Clearwater’s North Greenwood Recreation & Aquatic Complex). Besides that, I was making sure I stayed in shape, making sure I was ready because you never know when you’re going to get that call, when the opportunity presented itself. I made sure I was ready in the meantime.
How were you staying in shape?
I pretty much was just working out, running routes. I was hitting the gym, doing the small things to make sure that my body was taken care of.
At any point, were you wondering if you’d ever get a call like this?
Nah. To be honest with you, I have a lot of faith in God. I knew eventually something was going to open up and present itself. Thankfully, it did. But for me, that’s the main reason why I just stayed in shape and stayed ready, because I knew eventually I would have a chance to do something.
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How has it been to be on a team with (former FSU receiver) Nyqwan Murray again?
It’s amazing. We were roommates. For us, being close, and to have one of my guys here, that’s always a good thing. Not just that, we also push each other.
What’s Anthony Becht like as coach?
He’s a great coach. Not only is he a good coach, but he’s a great person to look up to — someone that you can learn a lot from. He’s been at the highest level, and he played it at a high level, as well.
What are the emotions and everything going through you as you get ready for this season to start and to have another chance to play again?
It’s amazing. We’re well prepared. We’ve been preparing for this for a month. It’s really a good feeling to finally get out and get on the field.
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