Local WR Michael Campanaro Plays With A 5-Foot-9 Chip

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Being 5-foot-9 with a wide, kid-like smile in a grown-man's game, one would think Michael Campanaro would hear some smack talk.

Nope, not really.

"I guess it's because I was doing well," he said Monday afternoon at the Senior Bowl. "I got bracketed all the time, so that's a compliment on its own."

Campanaro is the local, undersized kid who set school receptions records at Wake Forest. He was a standout and two-time Maryland state champion at River Hill High School in Clarksville, Md., then pretty much became the heart and soul of the Demon Deacons offense.

Now Campanaro is surrounded by some giants and a couple top-tier wide receivers in Mobile, Ala. He ran with the North squad's third-team offense and is battling to be a mid- to late-round pick.

Campanaro said he is slated to interview with the Ravens today. He's among the most interesting wide receivers Baltimore is taking notes on at the Senior Bowl.

"This is the best of the best," Campanaro said. "I'm going to go out there and play with a chip on my shoulder. Small guy, small-school guy, I'm out here competing with everybody."

Campanaro said he's had that chip on his shoulder since his high school days. In 2008, he was The Washington Post's All-Met Offensive Player of the Year and was selected to the Under Armour All-American game, yet didn't get the attention of powerhouses like many other preps who earn the same honor.

But Campanaro thrived in Wake Forest's spread attack, catching 73 passes for 833 yards and two touchdowns as just a sophomore. He continued that torrid pace over his next two seasons despite being the rare slot weapon that draws the focus of opposing defenses.

He finished his career four games short (broken collar bone), but still got the school record with 229 career receptions, and was third in school history with 2,506 yards.

So how does he do it? North squad Head Coach Mike Smith, the coach of the Atlanta Falcons, saw it in just Campanaro's first practice.

"Michael has got very good quickness," Smith said. "I was impressed with his hands. I was very impressed as well how quickly he picked it up from meetings."

Campanaro has a good feel for the game and how to get open, particularly over the middle. He's essential on third down and in the red zone, two areas where the Ravens could use help.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome said the Ravens need a pass-catcher that is reliable in third-down situations. Fans are lobbying for a big-bodied playmaker. But could Campanaro fill the need Newsome described?

"It's awesome representing Maryland," Campanaro said. "A lot of people followed me through my career and contact me on social media. There are a lot of people rooting for me. I want to put on a show for those people back at home."

Because of his broken collarbone, Campanaro was cleared to return to the football field just a week and a half ago. He's still shaking off the rust, yet scored a touchdown on an out pattern in Monday's practice. Campanaro is also trying to work outside as much as possible, trying to prove he can be more than just a slot wide receiver. "I'm just excited to see who picks me up," he said. "I think I'm a very intelligent player and I think I can help a quarterback out on third down. I definitely see myself going to a team with a spread system."

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