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2022 NFL Prospect Interview: Dante Capozzoli, LB, Kean University

Dante Capozzoli is an All-American and the leader of Kean University’s defense at LB. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.

Talk about your experience as a student. What is your major/minor? Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
I am currently majoring in Exercise Science. Other than football, I have participated in the Athletic Advisory Committee. We have had programs where we give back to the community and help raise funds for the university’s teams.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
My best quality would be my leadership. I’m the one who always gets everyone going. I also hold people accountable. I’ve been the team captain since the 2021 Spring Season.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
I’ve been an inside linebacker here at Kean. We’ve implemented a 4-3 scheme and are currently using a 3-4 base scheme. At the professional level, I would project at either a LB or box safety. As far as my role, I’m coached to fly around and be near the ball at all times. No matter if it’s a pass or run, my goal is to sniff out the ball, play fast and hit hard.

When I first came to Kean, I put in a lot of hard work on special teams, being very reliable and always one of the first guys down the field. That helped me get my opportunity to see playing time on defense.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
One of the best players that I ever faced was EJ Lee at Wesley College. He was very quick, had the best cuts and almost always found a hole even with little space.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
Two of the guys that really impress me are Kyeon Taylor and Anthony Bassani. When they come to practice, they are there to work. They don’t take any days off, never complain and make big plays on the field. They are very reliable teammates.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
My sophomore season was very rough. I had 3 of my grandparents pass away within a span of 2 months. That was hard to overcome because that was a very emotional time for everyone in my family. I had to be there for my parents. It really hurt them a lot. As for me, despite my circumstances, I still did my lifts and went to practice. Having football helped me deal with that struggle.

Another challenge that I have to overcome was that I wasn’t highly recruited out of high school. That was tough for my mental health. I thought that maybe I wasn’t good enough. Yet, once I got into that grove, I was able to hit my stride and do very well here. Kean took a chance on me, and I decided that I wasn’t going to let them down. I eventually became an All-American LB for Kean in 2019.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
I would likely play lacrosse. My family is really big into lacrosse. I played in high school, and my brother is planning to come to Kean next year to play lacrosse.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I am most proud of being a leader and captain of our team. My biggest personal achievement was being named AP First Team All-American.

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
One of the moments that sticks out is when I had my INT against Wesley. We were at their place and were down in the 4th quarter by a touchdown. Me getting the INT helped put us in position with a chance to win the game.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
One of the players that I’m a big fan of is Blake Martinez with the NY Giants. He’s a tackling machine and knows how to regularly sniff the ball out. He’s the kind of player that I aspire to be.

What is your favorite comfort food?
One of my favorite foods is the chicken parm and pasta that my parents make.

Do you have a favorite movie, TV show or actor?
Friday Night Lights is one of my favorite movies.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
Since 2016, I’ve been a volunteer firefighter in Caldwell, NJ. I also like hanging out with friends and enjoy coaching up the kids under me.

Why do you play football? Who or what motivates you the most?
I play football for the love of it, since strapping up the pads at a young age. I play for my family who try to attend as many games as they can and send me messages during the game. I also try and be a role model for my younger brother and show him that you can go to college and excel in whatever he sets his mind on doing.

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