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Wall’s Caponegro blazes his own path at Temple

October 21, 2011

PHILADELPHIA — Blaze Caponegro entered the 2011 football season on a mission, and now, the 2009 Wall graduate is making the most of his opportunity to excel on defense for the Temple Owls.

Following a red-shirt season in 2009, Caponegro looked forward to jump starting his career in 2010, but a bout with mononucleosis limited the former Crimson Knight star’s playing time for the Owls.

With two seasons already in the books at Temple and craving his chance to make his impact felt on the field, Caponegro, fully healthy, geared his focus towards, making this year count.

“The past couple of years things didn’t really go my way,” Caponegro said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “I took the offseason really seriously. I said to myself, if I had a chance I had to do it now.”

So how has the red-shirt sophomore fared following a strenuous offseason of hard work?

Caponegro has been magnificent, recording 25 tackles throughout the first seven games from his linebacker position, while also playing an integral role on special teams. Caponegro’s tackle total is 5th best on the team, as the Owls currently hold a record of 5-2 on the year.

“It is awesome, said Caponegro, referring to his success with Temple this season. “The hard work has paid off and now I am on the field doing what I love, which is playing football.”

Caponegro is playing under first-year Temple head coach, Steve Addazio, who was named the 25th head coach of the NCAA Division 1 program on Dec. 23, 2010.

Addazio has brought an impressive resume’ to the Owls program, which includes coaching stints at Syracuse, Notre Dame, Indiana and most recently, the University of Florida, where he helped the Gators earn two Bowl Championship Series [BCS] National Championships in a five-year span. Addazio was the offensive coordinator for Florida in 2009 and 2010, prior to landing at Temple.

Addazio feels that Caponegro possesses all the necessary tools required for a person to be a successful football player.

“He [Blaze] is a high-character guy,” said Addazio. “He has great work ethic and he is a real tough guy. Football is really important to him and he is an A-one-A kid. Those are pretty important characteristics to have and he owns them. It’s been a pleasure to coach him and an pleasure to be around him.”

When asked if Caponegro is a prototype for student-athletes Addazio wants to continue to build his program with, the coach did not hesitate to answer.

“The best,” Addazio said. “He is a tremendous, tremendous person. Those are the kind of guys who develop. What you put in coaching wise, you get out of them.”

Caponegro attributes a lot of his success at the collegiate level to the values he learned while play at Wall High School under head coach Chris Barnes.

“I think the number one thing I learned [at Wall] is pride, you have to have a lot of pride in whatever you do,” said Caponegro.

While playing for the Crimson Knights, Caponegro was a three-year letter winner, who received All-State, All-Shore and All-County honors in his senior year. Caponegro also excelled in the classroom as an honor roll student.

“I took a lot of pride playing at Wall Township,” Caponegro said in recollection. “The coaches there set it into me to carry yourself like a man and to do things the right way.”

With his solid production through seven games and with the confidence the defensive staff has in him, Addazio sees a player in Caponegro who has unlimited potential to be successful at Temple for a long time.

Caponegro’s next chance to shine will be Saturday, when the Owls travel to Ohio for a game against Bowling Green University.

“He is so accountable,” Addazio said of Caponegro. “You are always trying to find a place for him out on that field.”

Internally, and like any true football player, Caponegro burns to improve each day he steps out onto the field. With a name like Blaze, is it any wonder?

“You just want to keep getting better,” said Caponegro. “I can’t ask for anything more, I’m in a great spot right now playing linebacker on defense. I just want to keep getting better with the fundamentals and continue to play my role on the team.”

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