A Look At Senior Offensive Lineman Sal Capra

April 6, 2010

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Growing up in Kansas City, Mo., Kansas offensive lineman Sal Capra had visions of being a basketball star. The game was what he loved and what he was good at. He played AAU basketball – a lot of it – 160 games in a year. He competed against the likes of future NBA players Greg Odum and Mike Conley.

He was a self-described enforcer, yet he admired the play of Michael Jordan, who still ranks as his favorite athlete. Early in his high school career, he realized that while he could continue with basketball, he should spend more time on something that could take him further in life.

“I switched my focus to football in my sophomore year of high school because I knew I had a future in it,” Capra said.

Capra concentrated on football and his dedication to the sport paid off. As a junior in high school he earned first-team all-state and all-district honors as a linebacker, while also playing tight end. He repeated the feat as a senior, getting tabbed first-team all-state again.

While he excelled on the defensive side of the ball, offensively, he found himself on the receiving end of several touchdown passes from current KU basketball player and aspiring Jayhawk quarterback Conner Teahan.

Considered a top-20 recruit in the state of Missouri, Capra finished his high school career as the fifth-leading tackler in storied Rockhurst High School history.

He signed with Kansas and expected to contribute on the defensive side of the football. He spent his redshirt season in 2006 as a scout team linebacker. However, at the end of the season, he was moved to offensive line.

Recruited by former assistant coach Dave Doeren, the Kansas linebacking landscape changed when Doeren left and Mike Mallory took over coaching the position. Capra felt he was not the type of linebacker Mallory was looking for. His instincts proved right when he was moved to offensive line.

Capra had arrived on KU’s campus as a 245-pounder, but with the move to offensive line, he needed to get bigger. In the last three years he has bulked up and this spring he tipped the scales at 295 pounds.

“Gaining weight was pretty tough,” Capra said. “I don’t like being 290-plus pounds, but all I wanted to do was play football and play in games, so I made the sacrifice.

How did he gain 50 pounds in the last few years? “Let’s say I ate a lot,” Capra said. “All the time. All the time.”

As a freshman in 2007 he saw some game time as a backup guard. In 2008 he appeared in nearly every game as the top backup to Adrian Mayes and Chet Hartley at both guard positions. In 2009 he started all 12 games. He started the first eight contests at right guard before moving to left guard for the final four games.

Last year Capra was named KU’s offensive player of the week for his efforts at UTEP and at the end of the season was named the team’s Gale Sayers Award winner as the team’s most courageous player. He earned the courage award for fighting through injuries all season long and never missing a game.

Capra said moving to offensive line, a position he had never played, was “tough at first, but once I learned it, I feel I have done pretty well.”

Capra, an Academic All-Big 12 Second Team honoree, who will graduate with a finance degree in May, says his best attribute on the football field is his knowledge of the game.

“I think I can adapt pretty well during games,” he said. “I know the plays and I know the defenses we face because I study film pretty hard.”

And while his name may not be as well known as some other Kansas linemen among Jayhawk fans, he doesn’t mind not being on the radar.

“I am definitely not the kind of guy who likes to get credit,” Capra said. “I like the team getting credit. If the O-line gets credit (as a group), then that is fine with me.”

Capra plans to earn a double-major this fall, adding management to his list of degrees. He already has a summer internship set up with a bank. However, before he goes into the business world, he has business to take care of on the football field as he heads into his senior season.