There aren’t many people who have gone from scrubbing toilets to being drafted by the NFL in a little over a year.
Then again, most people aren’t Tommie Campbell.
Campbell was born in Aliquippa, Pa., a shrinking postindustrial town with a population of less than 10,000. Located just west of Pittsburgh, Aliquippa has produced a number of prominent NFL stars including Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsey, Ty Law, and Darrelle Revis.
Campbell could have been the next great player on that list. He committed to the University of Pittsburgh and, after playing sparingly as a freshman, recorded 49 total tackles, four tackles for loss, and one interception as a sophomore in 2006.
The cornerback struggled academically and was asked to leave the school before the start of his junior season. He got a shot with Division II’s Edinboro University in 2007 but was forced out of the program for skipping too many classes.
Two years went by and Campbell’s aspirations of playing professional football seemed all but over. He was working at the Pittsburgh International Airport as a janitor when the California University of Pennsylvania offered him one last chance to play college football.
Campbell accepted the offer and played well for the team, making 29 totals tackles, four knockdowns, and two interceptions in 12 games. His rare combination of size (six-foot-three, 200 pounds) and speed (4.31 forty-yard dash) caught the attention of pro scouts ahead of the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Tennessee Titans selected Campbell in the seventh round and he made the team, dressing for 37 games over three seasons in Nashville. He recorded 32 total tackles, one knockdown, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery before his release in August 2014.
Campbell soon signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and appeared in seven games, making five total tackles. Released after training camp the following year, the defender spent the rest of the season out of football before signing with the Calgary Stampeders.
The cover man had a sensational rookie CFL season in 2016, making 71 tackles and three interceptions in 18 starts. He was named a CFL all-star and posted strong numbers again in 2017, recording 38 total tackles and two interceptions.
Campbell’s second season in Calgary almost didn’t happen. Police suspected that he was selling drugs out of his mother’s home in Aliquippa during the off-season. He turned himself into police custody in January 2017, though all charges were dropped by April.
The Montreal Alouettes signed Campbell to a high-priced contract in 2018. He made 105 total tackles, four interceptions, and three forced fumbles in 33 games with the team and was named an East Division all-star in 2019.
Released due to salary cap constraints in January 2020, Campbell inked a two-year deal with the Toronto Argonauts worth approximately $120,000 per season. He will be entering the second year of that contract in the 2021 CFL season.
3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players, a project that will run through December 31, 2020. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.
47. LB Adam Bighill, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
48. REC DeVier Posey, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
49. DL Cleyon Laing, Ottawa Redblacks
50. OL Matt O’Donnell, Edmonton Football Team
51. REC Kyran Moore, Saskatchewan Roughriders
52. SAM Kenny Ladler, Free Agent
53. DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
54. SAM Dexter McCoil, Free Agent
55. OL Sean McEwen, Calgary Stampeders
56. REC Eugene Lewis, Montreal Alouettes
57. DB Greg Reid, Montreal Alouettes
58. DL Mike Moore, Edmonton Football Team
59. OL Ryker Mathews, B.C. Lions
60. DB Tunde Adeleke, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
61. LB Jameer Thurman, Free Agent
62. QB Matt Nichols, Toronto Argonauts
63. DB Jamar Wall, Calgary Stampeders
64. DB Loucheiz Purifoy, Saskatchewan Roughriders
65. REC Lemar Durant, B.C. Lions
66. OL Brendon LaBatte, Saskatchewan Roughriders
67. OL SirVincent Rogers, Edmonton Football Team
68. QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Free Agent
69. DB/RET Frankie Williams, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
70. DB T.J. Lee, B.C. Lions
71. QB Zach Collaros, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
72. SAM Anthony Cioffi, Free Agent
73. DB Shaquille Richardson, Toronto Argonauts
74. REC Kamar Jorden, Calgary Stampeders
75. OL Darius Ciraco, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
76. REC Jalen Saunders, Free Agent
77. QB Dane Evans, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
78. REC Brad Sinopoli, Ottawa Redblacks
79. RET Janarion Grant, Free Agent
80. DE Avery Ellis, Ottawa Redblacks
81. DE Cordarro Law, Calgary Stampeders
82. DB Brandon Alexander, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
83. OL Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
84. DB Branden Dozier, Free Agent
85. SAM Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders
86. DB Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa Redblacks
87. RB John White, B.C. Lions
88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DE John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions