Josh Keys’ first game with Texas Tech has something in common with his last game at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Except this time, Steve Campbell will be on the other sideline.
Campbell will make his debut as Central Arkansas head coach when the Bears and the Red Raiders start the season Saturday night in Lubbock.
In recent years, Tech signed four of Campbell’s players out of Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“It’s kind of unusual,” said Keys, a backup safety for the Red Raiders. “It’s my first game at Tech, playing against our junior-college coach. I’m hoping he doesn’t decide to go at me with little tricks or something.”
Campbell took over a Central Arkansas team that finished 7-5 a year ago. A former assistant to Pat Dye and Jackie Sherrill, Campbell was 126-38 at Mississippi Gulf Coast, winning the 2007 NJCAA title.
Between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Tech signed tackle Reshod Fortenberry, linebacker Chris Payne and wide receiver Javon Bell out of Campbell’s program.
“I haven’t talked to him, probably in two years,” said Fortenberry, the Red Raiders’ right tackle. “He used to call me every now and then, but it was just a broad topic, discuss how I’m doing and all that good stuff.
“He’s the reason I am where I’m at now. I’m going to be happy to see him.”
Fortenberry and Keys used their two-year stints at Mississippi Gulf Coast to mature physically. Fortenberry, now 6-foot-5 and 294 pounds, went there as a slim 255-pounder. Keys, now 6-0 and 192, said he gained 20 pounds the last two years after coming out of high school weighing 165.
Both won a lot, too.
“He put us in the right position,” Keys said. “He recruited the right players.”
Campbell had 15 players off last year’s team sign with four-year schools and has six currently in the NFL.
“It’s got to be one of the best jucos in the United States,” Fortenberry said. “We take pride in it. I’m happy to be an alumni from there.”
■ Who: Texas Tech vs. Central Arkansas
■ When: 6 p.m. Saturday
■ Where: Jones Stadium
■ Records in 2013: Central Arkansas 7-5, 4-3 in Southland Conference; Tech 8-5, 4-5 in Big 12
■ TV: Texas Tech TV on Fox Sports