By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE -- Six months ago DiAndre Campbell was being recognized as a departing senior wide receiver in a ceremony inside Husky Stadium. That was minutes before kickoff of the 2013 Apple Cup.
Last month, thanks to new coach Chris Petersen, Huskies teammates recognized Campbell as their popular, No. 19 back on the field catching passes during 15 spring practices. He is a newly declared, fifth-year senior for the 2014 season.
Thursday, Campbell was being recognized for his academic excellence and community service as UW's Athletic Scholar of the Year at the 44th "Celebration, Fete and Honors" event put on by the university's Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. The annual event, this one at the Husky Union Building, highlights the outstanding achievements, inspiring stories and academic successes students in UW’s Educational Opportunity Program.
Campbell, from Oakland, Calif., has a 3.23 grade-point average as a double-major in political science and communication. He joins football's Jonathan Amosa and Greg Walker, softball's Ashley Tuiasosopo, plus track's Felesha Ankton and Kristen Omori as recent minority students to be named UW Athletic Scholar of the Year.
Campbell was one of 16 students, from disciplines such as mathematics, chemistry, law, social justice and business – to receive a UW “Celebration” scholarship for 2014.
Campbell graduated from Oakland Technical High School, which has produced Marshawn Lynch and Rickey Henderson, among many other sports stars. Campbell and Huskies teammate Marcus Peters attended Lynch's annual summer football camp at Oakland Tech.
Campbell has 21 receptions and two touchdowns in 38 games over three seasons at Washington (he redshirted in 2010). He will graduate in three weeks. He will then become one of a handful of Huskies players to take post-degree ("post-bach") classes during the fall football season.
The fact he's still on the team is because of a meeting in early December Petersen had with him, days after the new coach arrived from Boise State to take the UW job.
Until then Campbell thought Washington's win over Brigham Young in the Fight Hunger Bowl Dec. 27 would be his final game as a Husky. He was on track to graduate this June and then could have transferred to any Football Bowl Subdivision school and been eligible to play immediately as a fifth-year senior.
"I was preparing to graduate, and then see if possibly I could go somewhere else to play," he said.
But one talk with the winningest coach in college football the last eight seasons (92-12) changed those plans.
“You hear nothing but great things about the staff. You hear nothing but great things about Coach Petersen and how his players speak speaks highly of him, even people outside the program, the fans," Campbell said. "To be coached by one of the greatest coaches in college football – even considered by other coaches as one of the greatest coaches in college football – you don’t pass up the opportunity if you have the opportunity to be under him.
“I was able to meet with him when he first got here, to sit down and talk with him, fine tune some things and move forward as far as me being able to play here. I definitely wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and be in spring ball.”
Campbell is definitely one of Petersen's "OKGs -- our kind of guys."
He is the vice president of the Washington Student-Athlete Advisory Council (WSAAC), organizing social events and community outreach for Husky players and advocating for any of their issues of concern. The honorable mention for the Pac-12's all-academic team in each of the last two seasons won the Huskies' 101 Club academic award at the team's 2013 postseason awards banquet. He has maintained a GPA above 3.0 in each quarter of his UW career while also volunteering for the Washington/Alaska chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He's also been a referee for flag-football games among Seattle-area kids aged 5-14.
That's why he was being recognized Thursday by UW's Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and the Friends of Educational Opportunity Program at an annual celebration of, as the OMAD puts it, "outstanding achievements, inspiring stories and academic success of EOP students."
Each year more than 500 business and community leaders from around the Puget Sound attend the awards banquet. The event's sponsors and supporters include leaders from Wells Fargo, Nordstrom, Safeco Insurance, Starbucks, Boeing, United Parcel Service and the Muckleshoot and Snoqualmie Indian tribes.
On average, over 30 percent of UW's incoming freshmen each year are first-generation collegians. And the most recent compilation of data showed 16.7 percent of Washington's students are in the Education Opportunity Program for minorities.
Latino (32.2 percent), Asian (20) and Black (15.9) students are the three most represented races in UW's EOP.
On the field, Campbell sees this chance at one more season with the Huskies as a constant need to prove himself to a new regime. His experience is coming in handy while veteran leading receiver Kasen Williams is still on his way back from a broken leg he sustained last season.
“I definitely feel like I have something to prove,” Campbell said. “Basically, it is a tryout. It’s a tryout for all of us, not just me.”
“I’m just trying to make the best of this situation that has been presented to me.”