In today's speed-based game, defenders that can run and defend against both ground assaults and aerial assaults are at a premium. Like the 300-pound nose guard that can stand his ground against double teams and the rangy defensive ends with the speed and leverage to rush the quarterback, linebackers and safeties that can cover ground and play against both the run and the pass are at a premium.
Not to many years ago, outside linebackers were primarily run defenders. Sure, they had to cover passes in the flat or pick up the occasional running back on a flare or flat rout, but stuffing the run was their primary duty. With a shift toward spread offenses and five-receiver patterns, however, things are different today. Linebackers and safeties still have to be able to defend against the run, but they must do so all over the field, especially against sweeps and screens that stretch the field horizontally. They must also defend those same players in pass routes, picking up slot receivers and staying with them through crossing patterns and other intricate routes.
Thus, it's no surprise to see 'backers that give up a few pounds for the sake of speed dotting the wish lists of schools everywhere. One such player is Edsel Caprice, who attracted nearly 20 offers following an outstanding spring for the Seahawks.
Caprice, who earned first-team all0-area and all-state honors as a junior, recorded 110 tackles and 20 sacks last year while holding down a defensive end spot. He will certainly drop back to an outside linebacker position in college, but his combination of quick initial moves and aggressiveness in pursuing the ball had colleges lining up to visit him during the spring contact period. Caprice, who forced seven fumbles and also had another 18 tackles for loss, piled up offers from schools such as West Virginia, North Carolina, Purdue, Connecticut, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota and USF -- and that list only figures to grow if he does not commit prior to his senior season.
As of now, Caprice looks to have the Mountaineers, Tar Heels and Bulls in his top three, with Wake Forest also a strong contender. He plans to visit WVU this summer, and he could make his choice prior to his senior season. A visit that confirms his good feelings about West Virginia could go a long way in giving the Mountaineers a defender that brings a wide range of skills to the field.
A 3.5 student, Caprice will have no trouble qualifying.