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When James Campen’s playing career ended he stayed around the game, and his entry into coaching began where his football career took off.
Campen volunteered at Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs, Calif., a little over 30 minutes east of Sacramento. After five years, working his way up the ranks as a defensive backs coach and a defensive coordinator, Campen took over as the head football coach of the Bruins.
“Tremendous amount of gratitude that I was able to be a head coach at my former high school,” Campen told Texans Radio play-by-by Marc Vandermeer and sideline reporter John Harris. “I love Ponderosa High School. I always will.”
The lessons Campen learned once more at Ponderosa High School have helped him throughout his 17 years as an NFL assistant coach.
The primary lesson Campen learned from coaching high school football is patience.
“Everything isn’t just going to come just because someone is drafted higher or is a free agent,” said Campen. “It really doesn’t matter as a professional athlete. The expectation is obviously there for them to perform at a high level.
“It is true at the high school level as well. But you get to see players that a lot of times a freshman or a sophomore guy who struggles a little bit, all of a sudden he has a growth spurt, and all of a sudden he’s a really good player at any position. And now, all of a sudden, oh my goodness, he’s an all-league player when you didn’t think he would be playing this sport.”
The Texans are asking some of their offensive linemen to consider new positions as Campen and offensive coordinator Tim Kelly attempt to field the best five-man combination along the line. An example is right tackle Tytus Howard, who is competing with former New England Patriots tackle Marcus Cannon for the job. If Howard wants to still see playing time, moving to a guard spot may be viable if Cannon beats him out.
” The expectation is extremely high, but when we’re asking them to try different things, to do different things, maybe have three or four years of doing it in college and their high school, it can be a little overwhelming at times,” Campen said. “I think patience and understanding is a big help at this level.”