Sept. 14, 2007
By Katrina Eddie
Miami, FL is known to many as a vibrant city full of excitement and culture. Therefore, most Miami natives would not necessarily look to Clemson as a place to continue their career.
For Miami native Christian Capote, however, Clemson is the only place to be. Though admittedly different (and quieter) than the typical Miami scene, Capote agrees that Clemson is a nice change from the setting he is used to.
“It was a big culture shock,” remembered Capote when he first set foot on campus. “I’m Cuban, so it’s extremely different coming up here. It’s a whole different culture. It’s more laid back here and a lot less expensive. The people here are very friendly.”
Even with the setting change, Capote has adapted well, and he has made a name for himself as an important member of the Tiger football team as well as the community in general.
It was in Miami that Capote began his athletic career playing both football and baseball. He transferred to Miami Killian Senior High School to play both sports, but he eventually stopped playing baseball in order to focus solely on football.
“I ended up quitting baseball since football was more the road that I was going to take,” recalled #67. “I played at Killian as a left tackle and right tackle on the offensive line. I saw a lot of action, mainly at those two spots.”
He was a top-100 prospect in Florida out of high school, where he did not allow a sack as a senior. Playing for Miami Killian Senior High led to honors at the county, district, and state levels in football, and they also made his football career at the college level an attainable goal.
As part of a close-knit Cuban community, Capote realizes that his football success is due in large part to the support of his family. He credits his dad as the biggest influence on his athletic career.
“My father has been with me since the beginning of this whole road,” said Capote. “He has helped me out, and he has always been there for me. I remember one time I had a test coming up for the 40-yard dash, and I really needed to practice for it. But I was really busy during the day and so was he.
“Then at 11:30 at night, I said `Dad, I need to go run and practice for it.’ And he came with me, even though he was worn out from the day. He said, `All right, I’ll come with you. Let’s go.’ And he helped me with it for almost two hours, running with me at midnight.”
When it came time to decide on a college, Capote chose the Tigers over Florida, Georgia Tech, and most importantly, Miami (FL). Though Clemson is not the typical college choice of Miami natives, Capote does not regret his decision.
“I’m really glad I came here,” stated the fifth-year senior. “I have learned a lot and have definitely grown up. It’s made me grow up. I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today. I have learned a lot that I wouldn’t have learned if I would have stayed in Miami, or stayed in Florida for that matter.”
Capote’s first considerable playing time as a Tiger came in 2005. He played nine games on special teams, including six on offense during the regular season. He played a season-high 18 snaps against Temple and had a 90-percent grade on 10 plays in the win over Duke as well.
Despite those key victories, Capote states his playing time in the loss to Miami as one of his most memorable experiences as a Tiger football player. “Miami…triple overtime…it was huge. I played a quarter and a half in that game. I will never forget stopping and seeing Cole Downer, our tight end. He ruptured his spleen in that game. And they stopped everything to attend to him.
“I was worried about him, but it still hadn’t hit me that we were playing Miami. Miami’s a big thing for me…I almost went there. I stopped and just looked around, and then it hit me. I said, `Wow, this is a sellout crowd…ABC…national television…and I’m playing…against Miami.’ It hit me, and I was overtaken. To see that everybody was watching and that I was playing, that was awesome.”
Capote describes the transition from high school to Clemson football as a very grounding experience. “I got yanked from the clouds pretty fast,” admitted Capote. “It is definitely very humbling. The speed is different. It took me a little while, but I got it now.”
One of his teammates and close friends at Clemson is offensive guard and fellow fifth-year senior Chris McDuffie, who has only good things to say about Capote. “He’s a hard-working man. He is very passionate about himself and the work he does. It also helps that his father is very supportive of what he does, on and off the field.”
When asked about this season, McDuffie told about the important role that Capote will have on the field. “This year, we are depending on him as a starter. He has been working hard in the weight room and conditioning very well. He sees it as an urgency for him to step up and play since it’s his last year.”
One obstacle for Capote took place before the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl. Driving back to the team hotel one night, an 18-wheeler collided with Capote’s driver’s-side door, completely knocking the car over and throwing him from it. Though Capote does not remember much of the accident due to his injuries (including a severe concussion, almost ripping off his left ear and shattering many of his teeth), he admits that it was a huge eye-opener for him.
“I was banged up,” recalled Capote. “I was so banged up that my mom had to help me out with everything. I couldn’t even give myself a bath or brush my own teeth. I was helpless in bed. I was going through some tough times before that, and it (the crash) definitely opened my eyes, and it made me see my priorities and set them straight.
“I decided that I need to work harder and not blow the opportunity that I have here. That definitely was an eye-opener for me, a big eye-opener. I could have died…I should have died. If that truck would have been an inch farther over or any closer to the front of the car, I probably would have died.”
As far as his playing career at Clemson goes, Capote recognizes Offensive Line Coach Brad Scott as having helped him the most. No matter how tough Coach Scott can be, his advice is for the best.
“As far as playing goes, like getting better and being on the field, his standards are really high,” said Capote of Coach Scott. “And you have to meet those standards in order to play.
“But if you do meet those standards, you will get better. Whatever anyone can say about him, he’s a stickler, he’s a tough coach and all that. He obviously knows his stuff and he definitely can make you a player.”
Coach Scott has been there to see Capote’s progress over the years and realizes how valuable he will be during his senior season. “Christian has worked very hard the last two years, and as a result has developed into a dependable football player.
“He had a great junior season in a backup role, and his hard work in the offseason has prepared him to have a productive senior year. He comes from a strong, close-knit family. As his coach, I enjoy seeing his success on the field and knowing what it means to all of them. He will graduate this fall, which gives him another opportunity to follow his dreams.”
Another important person in Capote’s football career is Director of Strength & Conditioning Joey Batson. When asked about Capote, Batson describes him as a consistent and hard worker.
“Christian has made tremendous improvements over the years,” said Batson. “He uses strength and conditioning to his advantage, which betters him as a player. This past summer has probably been his greatest offseason, which is due in part to his good training program.”
In 2006, Capote saw substantially more playing time. In 20 plays against Florida Atlantic in the season-opener, he had an 87-percent grade. He played 31 snaps against Temple with an 81-percent grade and five knockdown blocks. He also totaled at least three knockdown blocks and two intimidation blocks in the victories over Louisiana Tech and #13 Georgia Tech.
He played all 13 games in 2006, and he enters the 2007 season as the first-team right offensive tackle. He is known as one of the strongest players on the team. He has the fourth-best squat lift (565), seventh-best bench press (415), eighth-highest total weight lifted (1,535), and is ninth-best in reps (25) of 225 pounds.
His favorite memory of 2006 occurred during the home game against Georgia Tech. “I made a key block for J.D. (James Davis) to score a touchdown. That was pretty big, because even Kirk Herbstreit started talking about me on TV. He said that I made a really good block, and that was pretty crazy.”
This being his senior season, Capote has started to consider his options after he leaves Clemson. As with many football players, going to the NFL is a dream that he is actively pursuing.
“Just like anybody else, I wouldn’t mind trying out for the NFL,” said Capote. “And I think now, that’s become more of a reality, especially because of this past season.
“But if that doesn’t pan out, I could either go to medical school or probably do hospital administration, something along those lines. There’s always graduate school as well.”
No matter which path Capote chooses, he believes that Clemson has prepared him for whatever may happen in the future.
With the 2007 season underway, Capote predicts that good things are in store for the Tigers.
“The program is one of the best in the nation, and I definitely see big things for us. As a team, I would like to make it to the ACC Championship game and a BCS bowl game. We definitely have the talent. We also have the personality, the coaches, the facilities, everything. We’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
Katrina Eddie, a sophomore from Sacramento, CA, is a student assistant in the Clemson Sports Information Office.
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