Coach Speak: Alex Kapanos On Tyrone Hill

The Terps secured a commitment from Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.) cornerback Tyrone Hill June 24. Afterwards, we spoke to his position coach, Alex Kapanos, to gain more insight into the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder. Here’s our question and answer session with him:

The Terps secured a commitment from Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.) cornerback Tyrone Hill June 24. Afterwards, we spoke to his position coach, Alex Kapanos, to gain more insight into the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder. Here’s our question and answer session with him:

Terrapin Times: Coach, Tyrone told me you were the man to talk to. He said you could give me the lowdown (laughs)…

AK: Yes indeed. I’ve coached Tyrone, I’ve coached his brother who is now at Rhode Island, and I’ve known him a long time. He’s a pretty good player for us. He’s a tall kid, he’s very quick and he’s versatile. He can play either safety or corner, and last year we played him a little at WILL. When we dropped back, he could play some cover-2 and cover centerfield for us. He covers a lot of ground for a kid his size.

And he’s a solid hitter. He makes really solid open-field tackles and comes up in the box too. And, like I said, he can play either safety or corner, and he told me Maryland may even try him at safety too.

Oh, and his break on the ball. When we’re in zone or cover-2, he’s phenomenal the way he breaks on the ball. We’ve had some pretty good corners that have come through Bosco, guys that went to Syracuse, Notre Dame, Michigan, Colorado, and Tyrone fits right into the kind of defensive back we’re looking for here. And I think he’s going to be a real good college player too.

TT: One thing I’ve been asked is how tall he actually is. Is he 6-feet or 6-2?

AK: He’s actually 6-2.5. I mean, he’s a pretty talk kid. And he’s just around 200 pounds. He was a little heavier in the winter, but he’s slimmed down a little bit when we started our spring running.

TT: What does Tyrone have to do to get ready for Big Ten ball?

AK: Like anyone coming out, he has to make the transition to the next level and adjust to the speed of the college game. He’s probably one of our quickest guys defensively, but in college, the receivers are going to be just as quick, if not even quicker, than him.

And of course he’s going to have to get stronger. You can never be strong enough. He’s going to be one-on-one with Big Ten receivers, or he’s going to have to tackle a 230-pound running back, so he has to get stronger. But Tyrone is in the weight room all the time and didn’t miss a day all winter. He’s getting there.

TT: There were some questions about his straight-line speed. Is that something he has to improve on?

AK: Well, his quickness to the ball and his breaks tend to make up for flat-out speed. But he does run a 4.6 40 [yard dash], and that’s not that bad. Again, being able to adjust to the college game speed is going to be the challenge.

And you can run a 4.4 40, a 4.5, but do you actually play at a 4.4 or a 4.5? There’s a lot of kids who are fast, but you get them between the lines and they’re not playing anywhere near that.

Tyrone, though, he does a pretty good job adjusting from straight-ahead speed to field speed. He did a lot of 7-on-7 and picked right up where he left off last year breaking on the ball and playing fast.

TT: How long have you actually known Tyrone?

AK: Since Tyrone arrived here as a freshman I’ve known him. I’ve seen him develop for the last three years. Like I said, there’s been some pretty good kids come through, and he rates right up with some of the better corners we’ve had.

TT: Was there a moment where you were like, ‘This kid has it?’ A moment where you said, ‘He can play at the highest levels of college football?’

AK: I’ve seen him in games go stride-for-stride with receivers down the sideline, playing against teams like Paramus Catholic, Bergen Catholic, Florida receivers. He keeps up with the best of them.

He makes very athletic plays; he’ll come back on the ball, readjust …. We’ll have him play ‘divide.’ They’ll send two verticals and we’ll have him play middle, and Tyrone will drop straight back and then break to where the ball is thrown. I’ve seen him make some very athletic plays in those situations.

But what I’m really impressed with is how he breaks on the ball. That’s what really sticks out to me. Plus he’s a hitter; I love how he’s not afraid to stick his nose in there.

TT: Why do you think Tyrone didn’t get more offers? Why wasn’t Rutgers that involved? It’s not like Bosco is overlooked…

AK: Well, I know he had the Pittsburgh offer, and a number of I-AA schools breathing down his neck. But Rutgers was funny; I don’t know. I mean, some guys come in and fall in love with you, and others come in and they’re like, ‘I don’t know.’ Then all of a sudden it gets late and they’re on your doorstep offering a scholarship. So I don’t know. Tyrone’s a player though; he’s going to be a good player.

TT: I’m not sure how involved you were in the recruiting process, but how was Coach [Keith] Dudzinski who recruits Bosco for Maryland?

AK: I actually didn’t deal with the recruiting, that’s our other assistant coach. But I was a head coach for 25 years in the public schools, so I’ve dealt with it all in the past. And I think it’s good for Maryland to get a kid from up here [in Jersey] and from Bosco. This [getting Hill] could help them in the future.

But, honestly, it’s up to the kid and where he fits best. Everyone in the country tries to get in here, from Division I to Division III to junior colleges to prep schools. So it’s a lot of people talking to these kids, and it’s just, ‘Where do I fit best?’ The kid goes out and visits, likes the school, and he finds a fit. Some guys like to stay close to home, some like to go further way. There’s really no pipelines or things like that. It’s all about the individual kid.

TT: Is there a player you can compare Tyrone to just to give an idea how he plays?

AK: I mean, I don’t know. He’s just as good as the kid we have going to Colorado. It’s hard to really compare him, though, and I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I have to coach this kid the next six months, so I don’t want to tick him off (laughs).

TT: How is Tyrone around his teammates and in the locker room?

AK: Oh he’s unbelievable. He’s quiet, but he has a good sense of humor. He’s always cracking jokes. And he takes direction very well, which I like. Some guys, they’ll give you some attitude and you have to straighten them out, but Tyrone takes criticism. He doesn’t sulk.

Tyrone works hard throughout practice; he never takes a play off. Sometimes practice can get a little dull, but Tyrone is always focused and keeps everyone in line. He’s not afraid to speak up and make sure his teammates are working.

But that’s just the way he is, and that’s how his brother was too. It runs in the family.

TT: One thing I noticed is Tyrone kept bringing up his mother. It seems like he comes from a very strong family background and confides in his parents often, true?

AK: Yes, definitely. It’s a very strong support system for both of their sons. Academics are very important to them, and the parents have raised two fine young men. Tyrone and his brother are both great, great kids.

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