Former Star City standout Austin Capps is among the leaders on Arkansas' defensive line in 2017.
Sophomore nose guard Austin Capps was highly recruited out of Star City (Ark.) High School, but the school that gave him a verbal offer when he was in the ninth grade landed him. Capps played last year as a true freshman and is certainly in the mix to get even more reps in 2017.
Capps and the rest of the defense are adjusting to the 3-4 base defense after previously using the 4-3.
"I like it a lot," Capps said. "I feel it gives us a lot more range to be players. It gives us more movement. You don’t have to stay stationary and take on blocks like we did last year."
On Saturday, in the scrimmage, you guys were limited to pretty vanilla defense. How frustrating is that?
"It made it pretty hard," Capps said. "This next scrimmage we’ll be able to do a little more movement than we did and see how it goes."
On Saturday you came out with the first unit at nose guard. How was that?
"It was a little different," Capps said. "A little quicker than usual. I’m getting used to it."
How tough is it to go against Frank Ragnow?
"Pretty tough," Ragnow said. "Obviously, the best guy in the nation. I try to keep up with them. I think it’s helped me become better as practices have gone on."
Also, Capps and senior Bijhon Jackson have a nice battle going on to see who will be the nose guard. Jackson even shifted out and played some defensive end on Saturday.
"It’s going as good as it can, I guess," Capps said. "The competition brings out the best in both of us. He’s got a littler bit of experience on me. He helps me out every now and then."
One of Capps' biggest supporters is his mother, Thea, who had a birthday on Monday. Did you remember?
"Yes, I gave her a call," Capps said. "I think she liked it. We talked for about 20 minutes which was good."
You just completed your seventh spring practice. How has it been this spring?
"It’s been everything I expected," Capps said. "It’s been a good time. We’ve been learning a lot."
John Scott Jr. is the new defensive line coach. How has that been for you as well as Paul Rhoads defensive coordinator?
"It’s a lot different but I think we are adjusting well," Capps said. "We enjoying having them."
With Scott entirely new to the program how has he been different?
"A little bit," Capps said. "He likes to laugh a little bit in the meeting room. He lightens it up a little bit."
As a true freshman in 2016, Capps played enough to record 12 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sack. He played in 12 of the 13 games though he didn't have any starts. How do you feel you did last season?
"I could have done better," Capps said. "Left a lot of room for improvement. I think I should have made a few more plays, you know. I think anybody could say that."
Were you surprised you played last year rather than redshirt?
"Yeah I did at first," Capps said. "It was a little surprising when they told me I was going to go with the twos and all that. It was a pleasant surprise, I guess."
Do you feel you played enough to be worth not redshirting?
"Yeah, I’m glad I had that experience and not have to go through the same growing pains this year that I had last year," Capps said. "I learned how to travel and all the other stuff."
Last season teams gashed the defense with the run. I guess that has been made a priority this spring on defense?
"Yeah, we’ve been working on that pretty hard," Capps said. "New schemes and new possibilities and how we can do it. We have to get people in the right spots. Still learning You know, growing pains."
Capps, who weighed in at 304-pounds on Tuesday, drew a compliment from Bret Bielema on Saturday about his hand speed.
"Really him and Bijhon kind of rotated after last Saturday's practice," Bielema said. "Capps goes back to his Star City days of being a great baseball player. He's really quick with his hands, sudden, and that's helped him at that position."
Capps talked about how he feels his hands are as far as what Bielema was talking about.
"I guess just how quick I get my hands from the ground to the blocker," Capps said.