If there is one weakness that has stuck out like a sore thumb, it’s the run defense. Allowing the Showboats run for 97 yards and 1 touchdown, and the Panthers to rack up 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. Collectively they faced 45 carries by opposing players amounting to 5.3 yards per carry. With the Stars defense more or less built to defend the pass, it’s allowed teams to neutralize their strengths, utilizing play action, and run pas options to slow down the pass rush and free up more time for their quarterbacks.
Things have only gotten worse with the news that the Stars will be losing two more key defensive players in linebacker Te’Von Coney, and defensive lineman Ralph Holley.
This left them very thin at both positions and needing to find a way to bring in depth. That depth came in the form of former Pitt Panther defensive lineman Keyshon Camp.
Who is Keyshon Camp?
Keyshon Camp is a 6’4 290 pound defensive tackle. He began his career at Pittsburgh in 2016 after a stellar high school career that left him ranked the 17th defensive tackle in the nation. After joining the school at just 275 pounds, he redshirted as a freshman to get up to optimal weight for a 4-3 defensive tackle adding 15 pounds.
During college he appeared in 35 games collecting 59 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, 4 tipped passes, 2 forced fumbles and 1 recovery. What his stat line doesn’t tell you is how athletic he truly is at his size. During the 2022 pro day circuit he put up impressive numbers in the speed department.
Running a 4.81 40-yard dash, and a 7.8 3 cone drill at 283 pounds. While his agility was below average his overall 40 time was significantly below the average time for his position. He also managed 27 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press which is on par with the average from his position. This all likely means he is a direct one for one replacement of Ralph Holley. Holley was listed as a defensive tackle, but played around 280 pounds and was known to see time at end as well. Perhaps we see Camp fill a similar role.
NFL Mini-Camp Invite
While Keyshon did not receive a contract as an undrafted free agent, he was invited to mini camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Giving him an opportunity to launch his career not far from where he grew up. He didn’t end up earning a contract with the Buccaneers, but it gave him something else to add to his resume. While it’s hard to say this helped his path to the USFL, it certainly didn’t hurt. Now over a year removed from that invite he re-signs with the USFL. Camp spent some time with the Birmingham Stallions last season collecting 4 tackles and 2 sacks in limited playing time with the USFL Champions. Camp was released as a final cut from Birmingham’s roster this season. Hopefully he can be the missing piece the Stars need to win the championship this season.
One thing is for sure this addition was needed, and needed badly. I am somewhat surprised it wasn’t coupled with other moves to address linebacker as well. This makes me wonder if the Stars are taking the same approach at linebacker that they took at running back and looking to use a safety in the box as a third linebacker. I certainly hope that isn’t the plan in run situations, as I would almost rather see Adam Rodriguez, Ali Fayad, or Carson Taylor in run situations drop back and play linebacker. Shift Camp to end, and bring in Jordan Scott as a tackle. Perhaps even visiting a true 3-4 front at times. As long as their solution isn’t to constantly trot out a 200 pound defensive back as a WILL linebacker.
Regardless, defensive coordinator Brad Miller discussed the ability of the team to make adjustments and get better as the season goes on, being the true hallmark of a good coach. Now we get to see just how good of a coach Miller is at this level, to say I am confident in his abilities to right this issue is an understatement. If anyone can get this team moving in the right direction on defense, it is Brad Miller.