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Former Panther Mike Minter leads Campbell into scholarship era, Big South
Camels look to make splash in new home
 
Published Tuesday, August 7, 2018 10:16 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Big South Conference football will test the Campbell Camels.


Mike Minter’s sixth season as Campbell’s head coach is the Camels’ first in a scholarship-granting FCS league, where preseason picks indicate they should finish fifth in the six-team conference.  Last season marked Minter’s first above .500 with the Camels, finishing 6-5. However, he noted 2018 serves as a new beginning for the program.

“It’s like being a rookie again,” Minter said. “You don’t know where you’re going. You don’t know what to expect. You’re just kind of running around 100 miles an hour, and then you do dumb things. We’re going to be young and dumb. We’re going to be very athletic. We’re going to do some things sometimes you’re going to be like, ‘oh, that kid can play!’ and then you’re going to say, ‘oh well, what are you thinking?’ That’s what happens when you’re the young kid on the block.”

Said junior defensive back Darion Slade: “It started off as a vision, and now it’s a reality. We’ve seen that we can progress and get better, and I’m ready to see where the program goes in the future, honestly.”

Minter has a returning quarterback in sophomore Daniel Smith for the first time as Camels coach. Smith played in 10 games completing 136-of-255 passes for 1,889 yards and 18 touchdowns. He had 140 carries for 1,272 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“Coach Minter has done a great job in bringing leaders in the time that I’ve been there,” Smith said. “The biggest difference between last year’s team and this year’s team is going to be the leadership, and that finish mentality. We can’t get comfortable. We can’t start looking ahead to, ‘oh, when we make the playoffs.’ We have to take it a week at a time. That’s where leadership comes in. We have to keep everybody in that week, in that moment.”

Said Minter: “[Smith’s] unbelievably smart. You have to have that at the quarterback position. He has to be a quick thinker. Not only is he book smart, but he’s able to dissect information very, very quickly, and then he’s able to use that to put us in the right position to make plays.”  

Campbell opens the season on Aug. 30 against Chowan, one of two Division II programs on their schedule. The Camels play Shaw, a CIAA program like Chowan, on Sept. 22. Conference play begins on Oct. 20 with their first meeting against Monmouth, who advanced to the FCS playoffs last year, and ranked second behind Kennesaw State in the Big South preseason poll.

Offering scholarships makes Campbell an easier sell, but so does having a head coach with over a decade of NFL experience as a safety with the Carolina Panthers.

“Most of the players who come in to play college football want to get to where he has already gotten,” Slade said. “He has an open door policy. We’re able to go in his office, ask him questions anytime. We put more trust into him, because he’s actually been through what we want to do.”
August means training camp, regardless of the level of competition, but nothing compares to remaining focused on earning a job on an NFL roster in Spartanburg, South Carolina’s heat.

“As a professional football player, you just really look forward to getting to training camp, because you knew the season has just started,” Minter said on the Sports Charlotte podcast. “The drive from Charlotte to Spartanburg, you have butterflies. You’re thinking about a million different things. It’s a great time. It’s an exciting time. Everybody is 0-0, and everybody thinks they’re going to the Super Bowl. You have a lot of excitement around your football team during that training camp, but it gets old real quick. That’s the biggest thing with training camp; as you go through, how can you continue to be focused day in and day out.”  

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