Byron Capers was one of the top defensive backs during the mid-90's dynasty fun for Florida State. He came to FSU as an All-American safety, but made his impact as a cornerback for the Seminoles. Coming out if high school Capers was listed on everyone's list as a top defensive back: he was second-team USA Today All-American, Super Prep pegged him as one of their top defensive backs, Blue Chip magazine listed him as a first team All-American, and he was one of Max Emfinger's top 60 players.
Bryon said choosing to come to Florida State was based off of the elite football they played, and because of the intense rivalries they played in. Coming from Marietta, GA some pushed him towards the in-state Georgia Bulldogs, but in the end being apart of a great lineage of defensive backs was too much to pass up.
"Being from Marietta you always saw the big rivalries down in the south," said the former Seminole standout. "In the south it is just different. FSU had the rivalries with Florida and Miami, and then there were the rivalries that Georgia had. At the time Georgia really wasn't recruiting me. I went down to a camp at FSU and did very well. After that, Georgia started recruiting me pretty hard. They were always pretty good and there were always people pushing them, but I was more of a Georgia Tech fan. I am originally from D.C. so I liked the northern schools more like Michigan. But once I moved to the south I just liked that attitude and swagger they had."
"When I went to FSU they had guys like Deion Sanders, Corey Fuller and Leroy Butler," continued Capers. "I wanted to be apart of that. The program they had at FSU was great, and they had Coach Bowden there. In the end I just liked what FSU had more."
When you talk to former players they all say great things about playing for Coach Bowden. Byron said that playing for the legendary coach was an honor, and that what everyone says is true.
"Coach Bowden was a true fatherly figure and there are too many words to really explain him," said Capers. "He was the brain behind it all back then, but he also let his coaches plan for the games and he'd just roll off of that. Having that fatherly figure there really helped a lot of us. For me I didn't want to disappoint him. He knew everything about us as a person and also about our families. I really respect him for that."
Byron also enjoyed playing for longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. When he arrived on campus he was moved to cornerback, so the early part of his Seminole career was tough. Capers told NoleDigest that he uses the lessons today that he learned while playing for Coach Andrews.
"I still talk to Coach Andrews once every blue moon," stated Capers. "He is a guy you either love or hate. You go in there and learn as a freshman that he is going to be a hard ass on you. He does that because he sees it in you. They didn't recruit guys back then if they didn't see something special in you."
"When I came there I was a safety, but Coach moved me to corner," continued Capers of playing for Andrews. "I never had played it before. In high school I was a running back, free safety and back-up quarterback. He was beating me down early because I wasn't getting it. I took it because I had coaches like that in Marietta. On the field and in the film room he was tough, but he switched it off. The thing with him is if he stops talking to you that is when you need to start worrying (laughs). I loved playing for him and I still use everything he taught me today in everything I do."
Even though Capers and FSU didn't reach the goal of winning a National Title he did enjoy being apart of the "Dynasty Era".
"You now, we came up short a couple times in wining the big one but going there I had no regrets," said Capers. "I loved playing and beating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, and I loved playing in those rivalry games against Miami and Florida. The players and teams back then were just different then. There were so many NFL guys in those games. It was a battle. I also liked playing against Lou Holtz and Notre Dame, and I liked playing in the ACC. People don't realize it but I think we made the ACC what it is now. They had to get better to hang with us, they had to recruit better, and they had to plan better. Coach Bowden knew the ACC was down then so he always tried to make sure we had another powerhouse other than Miami and Florida on our schedule."
Looking back there is one thing Byron would have changed as he wishes he would have had that extra year to get over the top.
"Looking back the one thing I wish I would have had was that extra year's work at corner. I had to learn on the job my first year, but by my senior year I broke out and earned All-ACC. That year I did well, and I didn't have too many balls thrown my way. You look at guys like Samari Rolle who had that extra year; it pushed them over the top."
Byron had a pro career that spanned almost a decade and that saw him play for both the NFL and CFL. He retired from the game in 2005 and now resides in Vancouver, Canada.
"I got drafted in the 7th round by Philadelphia, and then played there for a while," said Capers of what happened when he left FSU. "I had a deal with Denver that I was going to sign with them as a free agent because I didn't think I was going to get drafted. In Philly I had two Pro Bowlers in Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent ahead of me, and there was my boy Brian Dawkins at safety. The general manager told me before they released me that they had enough tall corners. I wondered why they even drafted me."
"After I got released from Philly I signed with Minnesota and got a chance to play with Brad Johnson and Corey Fuller, so that was good," continued Capers on his NFL career. "I went there, played for a while, and then got released again. I singed with Kansas City for the playoffs, and after that was going to give NFL Europe a try. I decided then to go play in Canada because I just wanted to play. I played in Toronto for 3 ½ years and then came to Vancouver. For me I didn't want to deal with the politics in the NFL, so that is why I came up to Canada. I had opportunities with Baltimore and Buffalo but I turned them down because I wanted to play. I'm never satisfied with it but I got a chance to play pro football. I retired in 2005 and just decided to stay here since."
Now Bryon is a corporate trader and does some part-time coaching on the side. He still watches FSU play, he says, and wishes he'd see something better on the field.
"I'm in Vancouver now and I like it here," said Capers. "I am getting married to my wonderful fiancée next year and I am working for a corporate trader here. I also do some part-time coaching. I do still watch FSU on TV, and it is painful to see. I can tell there is just a different swagger then compared to how it is now. We all worried about winning only and getting to the big dance. I don't see that yet, but I do think they are turning it around. We had the pleasure of having longtime coaches like Coach Richt, Coach Amato, and all of those guys. I haven't been back to the states for a while but I would like to get back to FSU sometime and check it out."
Where Are They Now: Byron Capers
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