Does this sound like a fair tradeoff?
Former Michigan State tight end Josiah Price, who finished his career in the fall with the most touchdowns by a Spartan at that position (21), headed down to IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) in January. He plans to train at the prestigious athletic institution well into March in the lead-up to the NFL Draft in April.
While he does that, 3-star recruit Jack Camper has departed IMG, where he played his junior and senior seasons, to enroll early at Michigan State. Most would probably prefer to be in Florida, but since it means playing Big Ten football, Camper has embraced frigid life.
“It’s not too bad,” he said. “I actually like it. I don’t particularly enjoy having to trudge through the snow or anything like that, but I enjoy the cold.”
The almost simultaneous departures gave Camper little time to pick Price’s brain about what made him successful at Michigan State. But he did hang out with Price on his official visit in October, and the two text occasionally.
Camper has learned a great deal from watching Price work. It’s given him a sense of what he needs to do to be successful.
“(Price is) a goal to get to, just seeing how well he does everything,” Camper said, “mentally how well he works on the field.”
Camper certainly has the physical tools. He stands 6 feet 5 (sometimes measured 6-6) and weighs 240 pounds. He hopes to be up to 250 by the 2017 season.
Great size doesn’t mean sacrificing athleticism. Coach Mark Dantonio says Camper can touch the top of the square on a basketball backboard, which would be nearly 12 feet high. Camper doesn’t know his exact vertical leaps. He uses other measures for his ability.
“I can do a standing backflip,” he said, “it that does anything.”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 20, 2016
The biggest challenge, it seems, will be transitioning back from defense to offense. At IMG, he primarily played defensive end, but his work at tight end in practice during his junior year caught the Michigan State staff’s attention.
He has different terms, different form and different steps to learn as he prepares to play tight end in the Spartans’ offense. But thanks, in part, to enrolling early, Dantonio expects him to have a shot at contributing early.
“He’s been exciting to watch in workouts,” Dantonio said. “He will have an opportunity to participate immediately and have an opportunity to impact this program very, very quickly.”
Camper feels that way, too. He didn’t hear Dantonio’s comments and can’t speak much about their plans for him, but he likes his chances if he keeps working hard and learning at the current pace.
The Virginia native committed to Michigan State all the way back in March, and he never wavered afterward. As he walks from his dorm at Case Hall to his classes to the football facilities to a hockey game with his teammates and back again, he’s reminded why he ended up in East Lansing.
“It just felt right,” Camper said. “I talked to my brother (South Carolina lineman Blake Camper). He said once you find where you want to be, you’re going to know it right when you get there. That’s just how I felt.”