‘Coun­try strong’ Capps hold­ing the line

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­back Re­port

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.”

MICHAEL MOR­RI­SON/NATE Allen Sports Ser­vice

Arkansas of­fen­sive line­man Austin Capps speaks with me­dia dur­ing Me­dia Day re­cently.

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