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Ohio State star Parris Campbell says 'it would be huge' to stay in state with Browns

INDIANAPOLIS -- Parris Campbell's path to the NFL Scouting Combine has had more twists and turns than your average prospect, but all have come within the Buckeye State.

If the next is via a draft pick spent on him by the Browns, Campbell wouldn't mind a bit.

"Definitely would be cool to stay in Ohio," Campbell said Friday. "I'd be an hour up the road, so it would definitely be cool. But any team that takes a chance on me, I'd be honored."

The blazing fast running back won a state championship for Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in Canton, just hundreds of feet from the Pro Football Hall of Fame at what was then known as Fawcett Stadium. He scored a touchdown in that game in front of Urban Meyer, who was standing on the sidelines and eventually offered him a scholarship to Ohio State.

Once in Columbus, he switched positions, becoming a wide receiver. He ran into struggles with the change in his first two years but showed flashes of his potential, a blur with the ball. It wasn't as frequent as expected. The big plays wowed Buckeye fans, but the drops dampened their joy.

Then came 2018, which included the arrival of former Browns and Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline as wide receivers coach at Ohio State. Campbell blossomed, setting Ohio State's single-season receptions record with 90 to go along with 1,063 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He more than doubled his receptions and quadrupled his receiving touchdowns from his junior year.

"Just from this past year, working with Coach Hartline, he brought a whole new aspect to my game," Campbell said. "He played this great game at the highest level for seven, eight years and excelled at it. So just what he brought back to our receiver room and reading different coverages, whether it's inside or outside, he just brought a whole new light to it. I'm confident in my ability to read defenses now and just looking for little tells, seeing what different safeties, corners, linebackers are doing … they give me tells and it's really a credit to him, for sure."

Campbell's decision to return for his senior season was obviously a smart move, allowing him to showcase his improved hands, but for more than just football reasons. He also became a father, which came with a whole new set of lessons learned at a young age.

"I think the key word right there is just patience," Campbell said when asked about his nine-month-old son, Kai. "Through it all, becoming a father and then also having to deal with the grit and grind of the season, especially at a place like Ohio State, it definitely was a hard task for me.

"But you know, I think the ultimate thing is I learned to put myself to the side. I have a life to provide for now. I look at my son in the eyes every day and I just go to work, man. Because one day he's going to look up at me and be asking to go to college somewhere. Who knows if he's going to have athletic abilities and if he's gonna earn a scholarship, but I have to be able to provide that for him. He's my motivation, he's the reason why I wake up in the morning and do what I do."

That effort landed him at the combine, where he's seen as one of the top deep threats in the 2019 NFL Draft class. He's also a favorite of Browns fans, who would love for Campbell to become the second local Buckeye to make the journey from Columbus to Cleveland.

Campbell said his mother, who raised him as a single parent with the help of Campbell's grandparents, would be thrilled, too.

"It would be huge. I think my mom would love it for sure," Campbell said of being able to stay in Ohio with the Browns. "I'd be right up the road. She loves seeing all my games.

"It would be nice, honestly. My family, just throughout my entire career, have been right by my side. Never once slacked, never once failed, never missed a game, never missed anything. They were just always there for me, and they're the reason I'm the man I am today and the reason I'm the player I am today. So it would be huge."

We're still more than a month from learning how this draft will shake out. Keeping the Campbell family -- with its newest generation having arrived less than a year ago and its young star aspiring to thrive in the NFL -- in the state of Ohio might just be a natural fit.

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