Carolina Panthers

Mike Minter's Campbell Camels could see first players taken in NFL draft

Mike Minter coaches his Campbell Fighting Camels team against the Charlotte 49ers in 2014. Minter is entering his fourth season with Campbell.
Mike Minter coaches his Campbell Fighting Camels team against the Charlotte 49ers in 2014. Minter is entering his fourth season with Campbell. Charlotte Observer file photo

Mike Minter is building something at Campbell University.

It’s the kind of program that must be built with non-scholarship bricks, getting those builders to come to a school in a town that is a college town in its most literal sense.

But Monday, the former 10-year Panthers safety oversaw the Camels’ first-ever pro day in front of 19 NFL scouts – a striking number for a school of Campbell’s size hosting its first pro day.

“This is why I got into the college coaching game,” said Minter, who just finished his third season leading the Camels.

The Camels have never produced a player drafted in the NFL. In fact, no player from Campbell has ever been on a 90-man NFL roster. That’s almost sure to change this spring.

Defensive end Ugonna Awuruonye and defensive tackle Greg Milhouse Jr. both have a shot at getting drafted, and they’re almost assured a spot on a team’s roster going into training camp.

Milhouse owned the pro day. At 6-foot-1 and 295 pounds, Milhouse ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.8s. He had a broad jump of 9 feet, 3 inches and benched 225 pounds 26 times.

One NFL scout remarked how, with 32  1/4-inch arms, Milhouse fully extended on every single rep. The 26 reps were as honest as they come at pro days.

Milhouse, a Garner native, is a natural 3-technique, meaning he’d line up at defensive tackle on the outside shoulder of the opposing guard. That kind of speed and leaping ability for his size means he has the explosiveness to penetrate an offensive line quickly.

“Today I just wanted to show everybody that my film matches up with my athleticism,” said Milhouse, who spent a season at Appalachian State before transferring to Campbell. “That I’m strong, I’m fast, I’m quick. I wanted to show the full Greg Milhouse, and I feel like I was able to show that today.”

Awuruonye showed the kind of potential Monday that scouts are always hungry for. At 6-foot-5 and 253 pounds, Awuruonye had the upper body of an NFL-ready player, though he still needs to work on his lower body.

He showed violent hands in bag drills and measured in with a wingspan of nearly 83 inches. Awuruonye has a long history with Minter dating to when the prospect was a high schooler at Charlotte’s First Assembly Christian and Minter was the coach.

For both players – who were two-time first-team all-conference players – being coached by a 10-year NFL veteran means they get to learn how to practice and carry themselves like professionals.

“For the last two years (with Milhouse) and Ugonna for the last three years, let me work the mind to get you mentally prepared,” Minter said. “That’s what’s going to separate them from these other guys. I don’t care what school they went to. It’s about being able to be taught the right way to think about being a professional.”

Asked what he’s gotten better at in his three years at Campbell, Awuruonye mentioned only the mental: knowledge of the game, learning how to use his length to his advantage, work ethic and working on how to take things seriously and not for granted.

In the Pioneer Football League that comprises 11 schools – none of which offer football scholarships – the Camels have gotten increasingly better under Minter. He took over a 1-10 program in 2013 and got two more wins out of them the next season.

Minter then went from 3-9 to 5-7 in 2014, and last year, the Camels were 5-6.

Even if the two pass rushers aren’t picked in the draft, it’s possible the Camels still get a player drafted in 2016. Long snapper Danny Dillon, a Sanford native, has an outside shot at being taken in a late round.

Teams rarely take long snappers – New England has been the only team to do it since 2009 – but Dillon is one of the rare college snappers who plays in a pro punting scheme.

Most colleges today employ a spread or rugby style punt, and the blocking schemes differ from the pros. Campbell, under the former pro Minter, uses a pro style that sees a blocking scheme used at the next level.

That could pay off for Dillon.

“I owe a lot to Coach Mint for coming out here and molding us out there to that pro style punt,” Dillon said. “I think that’s the biggest reason I’ve gotten looks is because I work on that set blocking after the snap.”