Lots to talk about with a now-former Husker — center Mike Caputo, who was honored at the Outland Trophy banquet Thursday night.
Caputo wasn’t the only one recognized at the event. Terrence Moore and Jared Crick were there. Lavonte David wasn’t, but he still got a tribute video. Alabama’s Barrett Jones — the highly acclaimed offensive tackle — was the obvious headliner. (I’ll put a few more notes in another blog post shortly).
But Caputo, the one-time walk-on, hasn’t participated in a media interview since a December arrest nearly spoiled the end to a storybook career. He talked Thursday.
>> Caputo admitted he felt a little helpless after news broke of the Dec. 11 incident, when Lincoln police arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
“I kind of wanted to come out and say my part of the deal,” Caputo said. He ultimately pleaded guilty to reckless driving on Dec. 22 in Lancaster County Court.
On Dec. 11, after he was released from a detoxification center, Caputo said he immediately called offensive line coach Barney Cotton (at about 3:30 a.m.). He talked to coach Bo Pelini soon after.
“Coach Bo, he’s a players’ coach,” Caputo said. “He had my back through the whole thing. Our coaches are great guys, great supporters.”
>> Caputo basically lived the college football dream — a former Millard North standout who walked on and ended up starting every game at center during the last two Nebraska seasons. He didn’t allow himself to reflect until after the Capital One Bowl.
“I think it’s a little bit more fun now that it’s over,” he said. “It’s nice to look back — to say, ‘Oh man, I remember those days.’ Or, ‘I remember that locker room.’ Or, ‘I remember playing with those dudes.’ … It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it.”
>> Maintaining his focus on the end of the college football season — and not on the demanding process of preparing himself for a potential professional playing career — was actually easier than Caputo thought.
“I was just thinking, ‘That’s going to be a whole different roller coaster. I just want to finish this and then take that as a brand new step and not think about it.’”
So that’s what he did. Caputo said he found a note in his locker last month, which alerted him to the possibility of playing in the Jan. 21 AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He leaves for California next week.
By the time March’s pro day rolls around, the 275-pounder might add a little weight — but he wants more speed, too. “I’ve got to try to gain, while getting faster, so it’s not going to be easy,” Caputo said.
>> One other semi-humorous tidbit about Caputo, who’s listed at 6-foot-1. This comes from Cotton, who presented Caputo and Moore with the Tom Novak Trophy Thursday night. “We always had a bet that he wasn’t even 6-foot. He swears that he is. I swear that he isn’t.”