Mobile, Ala. Wake Forest’s all-time leading pass-catcher plans to catch a pass in a game for the first time since November on Saturday at the Senior Bowl.
Michael Campanaro broke his collarbone Nov. 2 against Syracuse and missed the Deacons’ final three games of the season, but after more than two months of rehab, he believes he’s ready to return to action.
Though he missed games in each of his final three seasons at Wake Forest, Campanaro, who will play for the North team, doesn’t think his injury will dramatically affect his draft stock.
“I’m sure it will a little bit because I was injured the year before, but I was just thankful it wasn’t a knee or concussions or neck,” said Campanaro, who caught 229 passes for 2,506 yards in his career. “It was just a broken bone and those heal. Those are just freak accidents so I don’t think any team will knock me too hard for it.”
Campanaro sat out one game in his sophomore season with a hamstring injury and two games in his junior season with a hand injury before missing the final three games of the 2013 season.
He said he was cleared by doctors on Jan. 1 and has been training every day since in hopes that he won’t be rusty on Saturday.
At 5-foot-9, 193 pounds, Campanaro is considered a late-round pick at slot receiver by most scouting services. He played in both the slot and as a wideout at Wake Forest and said he looks forward to finding his niche in the slot in the NFL.
“I think they’re switching to a lot of spread offenses, and slot receivers create mismatches for defenses,” Campanaro said. “If you can get the right guy in there that knows how to work it, whole defenses will have to tailor what they’re doing around that slot. It’s a good time for the slots to be coming into the league right now.”
Franchise Sammy: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd made the trip to Mobile, but his favorite target for the Tigers did not.
Receiver Sammy Watkins is one of 98 underclassmen who left school with eligibility remaining to enter May’s draft, and Watkins is projected by ESPN as the top receiver in the draft and fourth-best prospect overall.
At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Watkins has the size and speed to be an immediate receiving threat in the NFL, and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney thinks he can be even more.
“The most explosive player in college football,” Swinney called him during Monday’s Senior Bowl practice. “He’ll be a franchise player from the first day he steps on the field. Polished, smart, great kid, great will to win, great work ethic. He’ll be a franchise player.”
Watkins caught 101 passes for 1,464 yards in 2013 and was named to the AP’s second-team All-America team. He earned the MVP award at this month’s Orange Bowl when he caught a record 16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns in Clemson’s 40-35 win against Ohio State.
Murray in Mobile: Even though he’s not participating on the field, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is still at the Senior Bowl to speak with NFL coaches and scouts this week.
Murray tore the ACL in his left knee on Nov. 23, ending a four-year career with the Bulldogs that saw him become one of the most successful quarterbacks in Georgia history.
He said he hopes to be at or near 100 percent by Georgia’s Pro Day in April but considered coming to Mobile “a great decision” so that he could meet with coaches and let them get to know him.
“I want to go out there and compete, I want to go out there and throw the ball around,” Murray said. “I’m itching to get out there and throw, but I know I got to be smart, I know I got to listen to the doctors and just keep doing what I need to do rehab-wise to get healthy and we’ll go from there.”
Murray is projected as a mid-to-late round pick by NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt and CBS Sports.
Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9
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