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Global May 27, 2014

Doing the Double: Two-time Gatorade POY and Maryland commit George Campbell is a rare talent

Winning state Gatorade Player of the Year once is an outstanding achievement at the close of a high school season, but being recognized twice shows exemplary consistency at a high level of play in addition to impressive commitments off the field.

George Campbell of the McDonogh School in Maryland has done just that, taking the honor for a second straight year, Gatorade announced on Feb. 13. The senior midfielder found the net 23 times and assisted on 15 goals.

“It was great winning again, but I hadn’t really set my goals on it,” Campbell said. “I was more concerned with what my team was going to do this year and I don’t think I would have gotten it if my team wasn’t as special as we were this year.”

“I think it all reflects back on our coaches and my teammates and the guys that were on the bench and pushed me everyday in practice,” Campbell continued. “I think it comes to, yes I put work in, but those were the guys that made me fight and made we want to get better for them.”

Campbell was surprised that he won this year, but even more so from the previous year’s recognition.

“Last year I didn’t really hear about it, it wasn’t even on my radar,” he said. “When I found out I won I was completely shocked, I was obviously happy.”

McDonagh head coach Brandon Quaranta is very familiar with Campbell’s playing acumen. Quaranta has coached him at the club level since he was 11 years old, first at Baltimore Bays and now Baltimore Celtic.

“Even since he’s been 11 years old, he’s been clearly a standout from an athletic standpoint, always demonstrated great speed and technical ability, tremendous work rate,” Quaranta said.

It’s been one area where Campbell may have had the most growth over the last few years. That has been in his development as a leader.

“A major part of his development in the past two to three years is his growth as a leader,” Quaranta said. “He turned into one of the best leaders I’ve ever coached, his willingness to win, his desire to push his team along and his ability to make plays in critical moments in games to get results for his team has been tremendous.”

Off the field, Campbell showed his leadership by working with his mother, who is a nurse, at shelters serving food. He also helped out at several after school activities.

Although Campbell spent time as a forward when needed, his best position is playing in the hole just behind the strikers and using his play-making ability.

“What I like to do, I don’t think I have the size to play as a target forward so what we did a lot this season is I would play the number 10 role, I would sit off the forward and be more offensive, but drop back into the midfield,” Campbell said. “That’s what I like to do, to try and find little gaps in between their defensive midfield and defense and dribble at them and slot people through.”

Quaranta believes that role is where Campbell, who has committed to play at perennial NCAA powerhouse Maryland, will play moving forward.

“I think he separated himself in the last two years and again that’s why a program like the University of Maryland was dying to have him, you don’t get programs like that after you unless you’re a special talent,” Quaranta said.

Quaranta expects Campbell to have success at the next level. Despite any challenges put forth, Campbell has always risen above them and become an even better player.

He said, “It’s going to be a challenge for him, it’s what he needs frankly. Players like George need to be challenged, they need to be pushed, need to be in environments where they’re playing against the best guys in the country. If I know anything about him, every time since he was 11 years old, he’s responded to the challenge and gotten better from it and don’t expect anything less this time.”

Heading into his freshman year, there will be challenges in just getting ready for the season. Campbell suffered two injuries, playing his first game in months only recently. Campbell is dealing with a recently pulled hamstring and a broken wrist which occurred at the beginning of the high school season, which he had surgery on at the conclusion of the year. He returned to his club team just three weeks ago after recovering from the surgery.

Although he admitted coming back from the injuries has been tough, he continues to work on his fitness and getting as many touches as he can on the ball. He also plans to head down to the university early to get extra work and play with the captains, who will no doubt “whip him into shape.”

In the end, the ultimate decision to play at Maryland came easy for Campbell.

“It’s a pride thing, I’m from Maryland, I get to play in my state and represent Maryland,” he said. “With the coaches what they stand for is a lot of what I’ve seen at McDonagh, that we’re going to press you and make life difficult for you, but at the same time we’re going to play soccer and we’re going to attack you.”


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