Capra Captains Offensive Line

Oct. 14, 2010

Sal Capra is the first to admit he’s not the fastest or the most agile member of the Jayhawk football squad. Hardest working and most dedicated, now that’s a moniker he’d like to hang his hat on.

The fifth-year senior from Kansas City embraces the perception of him as a grind it out, get it done type of player. To prove it, Capra has displayed his versatility throughout his Jayhawk career, and that sometimes meant switching positions.

“I started off at center during the Orange Bowl year (2007),” Capra said. “Then I moved to guard after that and then I played both sides. I’m kind of used to all the interior positions so I’m pretty comfortable there.”

So far this season Capra has started at center and guard for new offensive line coach J.B. Grimes. Switching up his starting position come Saturday is a challenge the one time linebacker looks forward to attacking. For him, it’s all about helping the team achieve one goal, but proving his doubters wrong is also in the back of his mind.

“I like people underestimating me, that way I can show them that I can play,” Capra said. “When I moved from linebacker to offensive line, people thought I was just going to fill a back-up spot. Instead I came out here proved what I could do and gave myself a chance to play.”

“He’s a very, very tough guy,” said Grimes. “He’s a tough guy mentally and he’s a tough guy physically. Pain doesn’t hurt him like it does some other people. He’s able to battle through some things that normal people would have a hard time with.”

His coach’s kind words aside, Capra also see correlations between the David vs. Goliath role he sometimes plays, with the team he plays on.

“The time I’ve been here at Kansas we’ve always been considered the underdog,” he said. “I like that because people underestimate us and we can just come out there, prove them wrong and gain the momentum of the game.”

That underdog role couldn’t be stronger coming into the 2010 season with a new head coach and

a 5-7 record in the rearview mirror. Even before the start of the season, some college football publications had KU finishing the 2010 season as low as fourth in the Big 12 North, but Capra knows all too well the difference between third and first can come down to a few bounces of the ball.

“It’s tough because games are decided by one or two plays,” the senior said. “Last year we could have won five of those games if we would have played better on a couple of plays.”

For Capra every play this season takes on special meaning because it will be his last in the Crimson and Blue. The senior isn’t sure what the future holds for him after this year, which makes each snap and block that much more important to reaching his eventual goal.

“I think my football playing days are over after this,” he said. “So I want to finish my last days playing ball, going to a bowl game and coming out on top. The thing I try to get across to the younger guys is just make sure every play counts because you never know. That play might be the deciding factor in the game.”

Capra knows he very well may find himself in the middle of one of those defining plays against Kansas State in front of a packed house at Memorial Stadium. The opportunity for one to come his way is something he’s looking forward to.

“They’re one of our biggest rivals and to beat them at home in front of a national TV crowd during my last time playing them… it would be incredible,” he said. “They’re a really good team this year but I think we have a good chance.”

Capra and crew will look to capitalize on that chance and become the fifth Kansas squad in seven years to defeat in-state rival Kansas State.

Matt Franzblau is a graduate student from Bridgewater, N.J., and is earning his Master’s degree in strategic communication.