Even before Auburn added 4-star WR Malcolm Johnson Jr. to the roster earlier this fall, Auburn’s 2020 WR class looked to have the potential of being one of the better groups to come through the Plains. The staff’s confidence was so high in this bunch they elected to move Jashawn Sheffield (before he left the team) and Matthew Hill to the defensive side of the ball. It appears that confidence has not been misplaced.
Both Chad Morris and Gus Malzahn were quick to mention former 4-star Ze’Vian Capers when asked about freshman with a chance to contribute early. Morris especially is excited to have Capers on board.
“I think they’ll be able to help us out, Ze’Vian Capers being one of them. He has great speed. He’s got the length that we’re looking for. It’s just understanding. Coming in from being a senior in high school to a freshman in the SEC, it’s quite a bit of a difference. So learning the speed of the game, how to run routes, you can’t just rely on true athleticism. You have to learn the techniques of it.
Capers initially committed to Morris while Auburn’s new OC was head coach for the Hogs. The Tigers flipped him from Morris in July but the two were reunited in December.
Listed at 6’4” 194 lbs, Capers is a matchup nightmare on the perimeter. A standout at Denmark High School, Capers caught 45 passes for 922 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior year. Unsurprisingly given his length, a lot of that production came from winning 50/50 balls in the air.
But his game is more than just jump balls. Despite his size, Capers is extremely quick in tight spaces, excelling at making men miss after the catch.
He’s also got great top end speed which makes him a deep threat and the likely successor to Seth Williams at the 9.
Given what Auburn returns at wide receiver in Seth Williams, Eli Stove, Anthony Schwartz and Shedrick Jackson plus the off-season addition of Caylin Newton who has also earned plenty of praise, finding snaps in this WR corps will be difficult this fall but according to Malzahn, Capers is already seeing plenty of work with the 1’s.
He’s gotten a lot of opportunities. He’s one of those guys that, you know, (wide receiver coach) Kodi Burns is throwing him in with the ones some.”
Historically, Morris has tended to groom his next 9 man at the 5 spot, a position in his system that typically prefers bigger bodied receivers. While I think it’s likely Shedrick Jackson is the starter there in two weeks it wouldn’t be a shock to see the true freshman see plenty of action against Kentucky. The Tigers want to be more explosive this fall and that means getting your best playmakers on the field. From the early buzz it sure sounds like he’s gotta chance to be that type of player.