TORONTO — It was quite the homecoming of sorts for Toronto native Justin Capicciotti.
After graduating from Central Technical high school in T.O., the sleek defensive lineman decided to head to the left coast to play his university football at Simon Fraser.
Being so far away from his hometown, Capicciotti’s family didn’t get him to see play for the Clan very much, but they were able to attend Evaluation Camp, presented by Reebok, to watch the 22-year old shoot himself up CFL draft boards.
“He’s an interesting guy,” one CFL scout said while trying play his cards close to the vest. “His forty time was good enough, he’s strong, there are lot of good things about him.”
Capicciotti posted an official 4.89 electronic 40-yard dash time, and a 4.18 shuttle, both tops among all of the defensive linemen. But he’s not just a speed guy.
Capiccioti, who wore number 91 on E-Camp weekend, posted a top-five broad jump among all 59 participants, covering 10 feet and three inches and recorded the best vertical jump by a defensive lineman, leaping 35.5 inches.
Not to mention a solid 28 reps on the bench press, especially for a guy who weighs less than 250 pounds.
“I was happy with it. I trained real hard at SFU for this,” Capiccioti said.
“Being out west, we don’t get much exposure. I knew getting invited [to E-Camp] that I could show I belonged and fit in.”
He certainly caught the eyes of player personnel evaluators with his performance in his hometown. Although, scouts are trying to evaluate what position he might fit best at in the pro ranks.
“Where he’s going to fit in the CFL, that’s the question. Is he going to be a linebacker, is he going to be an edge guy,” one scout said. “I think he’s probably going to be an edge guy.”
Capicciotti felt he could fit in where ever pro coaches felt best. He played linebacker during his first year at SFU before transitioning to the defensive line.
“I know I can drop into coverage,” he said “I think I’m a hybrid guy that can rush the passer and drop into coverage.”
The six-foot-three lineman’s penchant for pressure was never more evident than during his senior season in Burnaby, BC.
Capicciotti and his Clan teammates had to transition from playing in the CIS during the 2010 season to competing at the NCAA Division II level of football in 2011.
From three downs on a bigger field and Canadian rules, to four downs a smaller field and the American way of playing the game.
The switch did not slow Capicciotti. Last year he was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Co-Defensive player of the year after finishing third in the GNAC conference with 10 sacks and was among the top-10 in total tackles with 66 –an impressive number from a defensive lineman, but it shows the high-energy pace that Capicciotti likes to pay at.
During E-Camp one-on-ones, against the best offensive linemen countrywide, Capicciotti showed why he had 10 sacks last season even if you didn’t see a single one of them.
“He had some really good reps,” a scout said. “He came off the ball quick, had a spin move and showed some speed off the edge.”
Along with the pass-rush ability, scouts believe Capicciotti has the type of body that will allow him to grow and mature into a true professional physical specimen.
“He’s got room for development,” one scout said. “Once you’re a professional you can train and you can get in and add to that body. He definitely has the body. He’s tall, he’s 242 [right now] and he can put on weight.”
“I can definitely bulk up, I’ve played at 260 pounds before. I can get up there and play defensive line,” Capicciotti said.
“He’s kind of reminds me of a young Brent Johnson — I would never compare them –but he could develop into something like that,” said a scout. “There’s something there that’s for sure.”
It’s quite a comparison, but what is clear is teams are very interested in the Simon Fraser product. Capicciotti had interviews with seven teams during his Evaluation Camp stay, the only one he didn’t visit with was the BC Lions, but they plan to meet with him back in British Columbia.
Coming into Evaluation Camp, Cappicciotti’s goal was to be the best defensive lineman in every drill. Although he didn’t meet his own lofty goal, he certainly met many pro teams’ standards and attracted the attention he felt was lacking playing football on the pacific side of the Rockies.