‘Country strong’ Capps holding the line
FAYETTEVILLE — Austin Capps hasn’t ridden the two-way street for the Razorbacks as easily as he did starring for Star City.
Still, Capps persists plowing first through one football facet and then another at the University of Arkansas like he plowed through the fields of the cotton and soy beans farm back home.
Farm boy Capps starred at Star City as a 4-star recruited defensive lineman also known to shine on the offensive line.
It’s a tougher two-way street as a collegian in the SEC.
“I did in high school but it wasn’t quite as extensive,” Capps said, smiling at the understatement. “Same for the competition.”
Of course at Arkansas Capps wasn’t asked to do both simultaneously.
Defense is what he was most noted for and that’s what the Bret Bielema regime recruited him for. For the 25 games that he was under Bielema as a
2016 true freshman and
2017 sophomore, Capps played 24 as an alternate defensive tackle.
The 6-4, 304-pounder plugged holes while making 12 tackles his first year and 17 the next.
New coach Chad Morris from his first Arkansas spring expected more and better from Capps on the 2018 D-line.
He never got it. Because as offensive linemen fell like dominoes to the preseason injury bug, Morris started looking for O-linemen of any experience.
Capps had that from Star City days and he certainly possesses the size, strength and smarts. So he became a reserve offensive guard just two weeks before the season-opener.
“I was just kind of like,
‘If that’s where I’m needed, that’s what I’m going to do,” Capps recalled.
Capps’ size stands out, though as offensive line coach Dustin Fry said, nobody would enter Capps in a body building contest until they saw him lift the weights.
“It’s not like he’s this huge, cut guy,” Capps said. “He’s country strong. You look at him and you don’t think he’s going to be this powerful guy but he really is a freak in the weight room. He can squat the house and about bench the house. And he moves and bends really well.”
Capps’ country boy strength does stem from the country into football.
“Working summers with my uncle,” Capps said.
“Just good, old farm stuff, I guess. And I always enjoyed the weight room in high school.”
Strength and agility is not the only Capps book you can’t tell by the cover.
“He’s kind of a silent
assassin,” Fry said. “He doesn’t say a whole bunch, but once you get him going he’s got a really good personality.”
And brains. Majoring in agricultural business, Capps three times has been named to the SEC Honor Roll.
It takes much upstairs learning in two weeks to play on the offensive line, a position that ideally grooms players with a redshirt year and nearly another apprenticeship as a second-year freshman and potential not expected nearly reached until as a junior.
“He came from the D-line to the O-line two weeks into camp last year and had a crash course on O-line play,” Fry said.
Off the bench he played in 11 of the 12 games, a scooter injury cost him playing against Texas A&M, and played both right and left guard.
It wasn’t easy (“It’s pretty big adjustment defense to offense,” Capps said) but he opened the August preseason practicing first-team left guard.
“If you look back at some of that film, I know he was upset a little bit, because he didn’t always know, ‘OK, how do I step?” Fry said. “When teams would go to odd (front) on him, he just wasn’t quite sure. But man, he’s had a great summer! So now that we’re a year into it, he’s just in a better place mentally knowing, ‘Hey, this is my spot to lose and now I just need to focus on the finer details of O-line play.”
More detailed and certainly more confident.
“I did feel last year I got better as the year went on,” Capps said after his initial August practices. “I feel like I’m picking up where I left off.”
Arkansas offensive lineman Austin Capps speaks with media during Media Day recently.