This past spring, Boston College football defensive backs coach Anthony Campanile was promoted to co-defensive coordinator. All it took was matter of months for the 36-year-old to move up the coaching ranks again.
On Friday night, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh announced that the Wolverines have hired Campanile as a defensive assistant, marking an end to Campanile’s three-year stay on the Heights.
“Anthony has a strong reputation for developing all-conference performers and future NFL players,” Harbaugh told mgoblue.com. “Our student-athletes will benefit greatly from his mentorship.”
Since Campanile took over as defensive backs coach in 2016, BC has had three players from the position group (John Johnson III, Isaac Yiadom, and Kamrin Moore) selected in the NFL Draft, and three more (Hamp Cheevers, Lukas Denis, and Will Harris) could very well hear their names called this April. To put that in perspective, prior to his three-year stint with the program, the Eagles only produced three NFL defensive backs in the previous decade (2006-15). Not to mention, in Campanile’s past two years with the team, three of his players—Denis, Harris, and Cheevers—have earned All-ACC honors.
Despite starting his coaching career just 14 years ago, Campanile—originally a Rutgers assistant—is already renowned for his player development and recruiting skills, and for good reason. None of the six NFL-caliber players mentioned above were four or five star recruits. In fact, two of them—Johnson III and Cheevers—were two-star defensive backs coming out of high school. Although Campanile was only at BC for Johnson III’s senior season, he played a pivotal role in the safety cracking the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Perhaps more impressive, Campanile mentored Cheevers—who arrived at Chestnut Hill, standing a mere 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds—and helped him become one of the best corners in not only the ACC, but the entire country, by the time he was a junior.
Campanile’s secondaries have had a nose for the ball. Each of the past two years, the Eagles have had a player finish either first or second in interceptions on the season. In 2017, Denis picked off seven passes, and just this past fall, Cheevers matched that mark, tying Syracuse’s Andre Cisco for the nation lead. It’s worth noting that both Denis and Cheevers were first-year starters when they broke onto the scene as Walter Camp All-Americans—partly a testament to to Campanile’s coaching pedigree.
But Campanile isn’t just a takeaway specialist. In fact, he groomed defensive backs that can jam wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, like Yiadom, as well as those that can lay hard hits on any offensive player in the ACC, such as Moore and Harris.
And while Campanile might be best known for the individual talent that he has coached, he also led a BC secondary that—as a whole—was quite successful during his time on campus. Aside from an inconsistent 2018, a season riddled with missed tackles, the position group ranked among the best in the nation the previous two years. Before dropping to 96th (247.9 yards per game) in passing yards allowed this past fall, the Eagles ranked 47th (217.6 yards per game) and 22nd (191.6 yards per game) in 2016 and 2017, respectively. All three years Campanile was at BC, his secondary logged 12 or more interceptions. In 2018, the Eagles’ 18 interceptions were good for fifth most in the country.
For the second-straight season, the NFL Draft will deliver a big blow to BC’s back end. Fortunately for head coach Steve Addazio’s team, Campanile is leaving the secondary with a few more promising prospects, most notably cornerback Brandon Sebastian—the Week 10 ACC Defensive Player of the Week—and safety Mike Palmer.
Campanile’s specific coaching title has not yet been released by Michigan, but according to TheMichiganInsider’s Sam Webb, the Fair Lawn, N.J. native could end up coaching safeties or outside linebackers and vipers. Regardless, he’ll join a staff that ranked 16th in scoring defense (19.4 points per game) and second in both passing yards allowed (147.8 yards per game) and total defense (275.2 yards per game) last season.
When Campanile was first hired at BC, the program was still known as an “O-Line U.” Since, it has evolved into one of the more desirable landing spots for aspiring defensive backs, in large part thanks to Campanile himself.
Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor