A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Campbell played college football at Mississippi. He began coaching soon after his playing career, becoming highly successful in the Mississippi High School ranks at Gulf Coast Military Academy, Canton, and Vicksburg.
He was hired by then-Mississippi State coach Royal in 1955, and went with him to Washington, and later Texas. In 1967, he was placed in charge of the Longhorn defense, and in 1974 was named assistant head coach.
After Royal's retirement in 1976, Campbell was snubbed in favor of Fred Akers for Royal's succession, a decision that was a source of controversy among Texas fans. Campbell retired from coaching afterwards.