Leader of the Band
By Shannon McNamara for MSNsportsNET.com
August 29, 2009
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - An imposing figure by any standards, senior Selvish Capers’ dominating presence should worry opposing defensive lines. Measuring in at 6-feet-5, and pushing 298 pounds, WVU’s starting right tackle is a prime candidate to lead the Mountaineers off of the bus at away games; what opponent wouldn’t think twice after seeing the Kenner, La., resident strut down the bus’ stairs - shoulders back, head high, face full of determination – prepared for a tough battle?
Yet, despite owning a physical stature that has probably won its fair share of staring contests, Capers’ reputation within the WVU football locker room is vastly different than his physical public image. For within the confines of the Milan Puskar Center, Capers is the resident smooth crooner – the man with the memorable voice.
His teammates’ admiration for his vocal talents is lost on the multidisciplinary studies major.
“I sing, but I always just do it on the fly, when I’m in the moment,” he laughed. “I guess I’m a good singer. You might catch me on the field one time just singing.”
Though his threat to break out into song is ever present, the Mountaineers are hoping he does more than hone his American Idol audition reel during his last season in Morgantown. As the offensive line’s only returning full-time starter, Capers must shoulder the leadership and teaching responsibilities necessary to see both the unit, and the entire Mountaineer football team, succeed in 2009.
“These last five years have gone by really fast. I’ve learned a lot of things and have been given the opportunity to play with some great offensive lines,” Capers said. “Now, it is my turn to step up and be a leader, and that’s my plan this season.”
Capers entered WVU at tight end, but after two years with the team, was moved to tackle and joined one of the nation’s most-respected lines. The transition did not faze the big body, as Capers not only played in all 13 games that season, but started six. WVU’s rushing attack was unstoppable that year, as current running back stud, Noel Devine, along with past greats Steve Slaton, Pat White and Owen Schmitt, ran all over the field and finished the year as the No. 3-ranked rushing offense and No. 9 scoring unit.
Last season saw Capers’ line earn multiple top five preseason rankings. Yet, as the coaching staff made its own transitions, and the offense began to focus on the pass before the run, the line found itself shouldering much of the blame for Mountaineer blunders.
Capers believes that his unit performed well last year, remarkable given the fact that it was playing under its third position coach in three years, and that all respect should be given to line coach Dave Johnson.
“Each coach brings different things to the table. I was happy that my third coach was open minded – if I did something that I learned from one of the previous two coaches, he wouldn’t get upset,” Capers said of Johnson. “He just asked me to try a few other techniques, too. He never threw different ideas to the curb; he was very open minded and willing to use and incorporate what I had already been taught.”
With 19 starts to his credit, and new names, such as Joey Madsen and Don Barclay, replacing dominate forces, such as Greg Isdaner and Ryan Stanchek, Capers knows that the line will go as far as his guidance takes it. With that in mind, he hopes to emulate his two-year leader, Stanchek.
“Ryan was more like me. He wasn’t much of a big talker; he led more through his actions,” explained Capers. “It was known that he was going to go out there, play a great game and give it his all. Even at practice, he gave 100 percent all of the time; everyone respected him for that.
“I know his name is going to go down in the WVU history books. That’s the type of legacy I want to leave. That’s how I want to end my career.”
Capers’ wish-list goes beyond etching his name in to the Mountaineer lore.
“Goal No. 1 for this year would be to just have a great senior season,” he said after an intense moment of thought. “No. 2 would be to win a BIG EAST Championship. And No. 3, to win a national championship.”
Though not ranked among his goals, Capers would especially like to end his Mountaineer career at a BCS bowl game. Redshirted when the Mountaineers won the 2006 Sugar Bowl, and limited by injury in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl victory, Capers hopes he finally gets his chance to shine as a senior.
“I want to go out with a bang this year. I don’t want to sell myself or my teammates short. A BCS game would be a perfect way to end,” he said. “Even though I haven’t started a BCS game, I had my first career bowl game start last season in Charlotte, so I’m not too picky with what game we get to at the end of this year. I just want to go out and win.”
A self-described “humble” person, Capers appears capable and up to the challenge of leading the WVU line through the trenches this season.
“This O-line doesn’t give up. We continue to push and we continue to get better,” he emphatically stated. “That’s all I can ask of them – that we go out there and give 100 percent.”
Whether it be pushing the Mountaineer offense down the field, producing an intimidating face on the road or providing a brief break from work with an impromptu song, Capers says you can count on him to lead WVU back to the national stage.
“I’m glad to be an offensive lineman; it’s been a blessing, and I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to play here for the Mountaineers,” he said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win, and that will show this season.”
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