The chaotic weekend ended in a new beginning for UAB football signee Trace Campbell.

Campbell took an official visit to UAB this week and committed to the Blazers before getting on a plane early Sunday morning. He spent less than two days at home in Maryland before returning to Birmingham to begin his new opportunity.

Taking a moment to kick back wasn’t included.

“This weekend was kind of chaos, getting everything situated,” said Campbell, who spent his first college football season at Ole Miss. “The official, we went to Top Golf. I met some of the other guys on official visits. I flew out of here at 5:45 a.m. to go back home. I never really got to be home for too long after the bowl. I wanted to go back, see my dog, see my girlfriend, hang out with my family for a day and a half. It was nice to have a little reset.”

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Campbell hasn’t taken a traditional route to reach this point in his football career. He was a quarterback at DeMatha High in Maryland as a sophomore and won the quarterback job the following year at Our Lady of Good Counsel High. But an injury early in his junior season changed the plans for the remainder of his high school career.

“I tore my labrum in my shoulder,” Campbell said. “I couldn’t play quarterback because it would come out of socket when I’d throw. Partway through the season, it was either stop playing or find something else. It was hurting a lot. I ended up playing receiver, so it wouldn’t dislocate anymore.”

He also played on the other side of the football as outside linebacker. After his junior year, he said he had about 19-20 offers. Maryland wanted him as a linebacker or tight end. Cincinnati offered him as a tight end. Ivy League schools and military institutions pursued him. Ultimately, he committed to the Air Force Academy, which wanted him as a linebacker, but that eventually fell through.

After graduation, he chose to attend Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia to play quarterback in the postgrad program. On the field, he led his team to an unbeaten season. Off the field, he endured an experience he had never faced before.

“Fork Union was unreal for my personal development,” Campbell said. “It was a difficult time. One, the way they structured the day, you’re up at 5:45 a.m., shaving your face, sweeping the floor, all that. You’re busy, marching, class, conditioning, study hall, all the way through 9:30. The one thing you could look forward to, during the day was playing ball. You’re isolated from the outside world, no free time, no cell phone, bunk bed in the barracks. I didn’t really need structure, but it helped me appreciate the game. I always appreciated it, but it just took it to the next level.”

He had some scholarship offers but chose to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Chance, who finished his outstanding college career at Ole Miss. Trace went to Ole Miss as a preferred walk-on and played just one game at tight end in his only season in the program. He entered the transfer portal after the Rebels lost to Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl. His first call came from UAB, which was interested in him as a quarterback.

He was sold on UAB quickly, largely because of the ability to play quarterback under Trent Dilfer, who is known for developing quarterbacks, as well as offensive coordinator Alex Mortensen and quarterback coach Nick Coleman.

“Unreal,” Campbell said. “I can’t wait to develop under him and the coaching staff. I’m super fired up. It means almost everything to me. He seems like as solid of a guy there is in college football and clearly very knowledgeable. That’s huge.”

Campbell, who could have four seasons of eligibility remaining, joins a quarterback room that includes returning starter Dylan Hopkins and returning backup Jacob Zeno. It also includes Bryson Lucero and Damon Stewart.

“I’m so fired up to dive in, just to pour everything into it,” Campbell said. “That’s all you can do. Knowing that you’re pouring everything into an environment and everybody around you is pouring everything into it, everybody can count on each other and trust each other, that’s huge. I can feel that already. It makes you want to continue to do that.”

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