Alabama’s Tyler Campbell was among them.
The former Cordova High School athlete went up against the top college athletes in the nation at the meet held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, last week.
He left as a second-team All-American after finishing 16th in the 24-man field.
It was a perfect ending to his four-year career at the Capstone.
“We had five people go to nationals out of about 80,” said Campbell, who qualified for nationals by finishing in the top 12 at the East Regional meet in Florida. It took a jump of 7-feet-2 1/2 inches to make the cut.
Campbell, 21, who graduated on May 5, also finished strong academically, picking up SEC All-Academic Team honors.
“I’ve done really well. I can’t complain,” said Campbell, who has participated in both the outdoor and indoor NCAA Championships. “Athletically, I got the most out of it that I possibly could.”
Though he has another season of eligibility in outdoor track, Campbell said he is ready to move on now that he has his degree in criminal justice.
“When I had to clean my locker at Alabama out, I was kind of depressed,” said Campbell, who hasn’t ruled out trying to make the Olympics in 2016. “I’ll still do track. I’ll take the rest of the summer off and start back hard over the next four years. I think I have a shot at that. If I jump another three inches, I will be able to go pro. I can easily jump that. I just could never do that in a meet.”
Campbell has jumped as high as 7-4.5 in practice.
Campbell got interested in high jumping during his days at Cordova High School.
“Coach (Woody) Smothers asked me to do track and field. I said no because I was playing basketball. Later that night, I talked to my dad about it. He jumped in high school and in college at Montevallo University. After that, I thought I’d give it a shot. I told coach Smothers the next day that I would be on the team. Little did I know that we didn’t have a track or anything. We just went to meets.”
Despite having to travel to other schools to train for the high jump, including Cold Springs and Walker, Campbell excelled during his time at Cordova. He won the Class 3A state high jump championship in 2007 and 2008, setting the state record his senior year.
From there, Campbell chose Alabama over USC, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Auburn.
At Alabama, he was the school’s top high jumper as a freshman and held that spot for his career.
“Everything I have today is because I high jumped,” he added.
“He enjoyed this season the most thanks to new coaches Dan Waters (head coach) and Dick Booth (jumps coach). Booth, who came to Alabama from Florida, coached 49 NCAA individual champions and 150 All-Americans.
“This year was the best year I’ve had track-wise. The new coaches made is so much fun. I felt like if these coaches would have been here my freshman year, I would have been so much better,” Campbell said.
Next up for Campbell is getting a job. He hopes to get a position with the United State border patrol.
“I’ve got up to 45 days for them to fly me out for an interview,” said Campbell, who did his internship with the Tuscaloosa County Police Department. “Criminal justice is an interesting field that never gets boring. Day to day it’s never the same. I’ve always wanted to do federal law enforcement.”