Ze’Vian Capers’ journey is not just for himself.
He’s not the first athlete with potential to come from his family: his father played football at South Carolina State, and while Ze’Vian’s football career is ultimately his, he also feels like he’s playing for something bigger.
“It's great to follow in his footsteps, but at the same time, I'm trying to make it further than he did,” Capers said. “He made it to college, but he tore his ACL so he couldn't go to the draft. I'm just trying to make my family proud and just be the best athlete I can be.”
He certainly did that during his last season at Denmark. Capers was the county’s top wideout as a senior, finishing 2019 with 45 catches for 922 yards and 10 touchdowns. At 6-foot-4, he has the size necessary to be a go-to threat in the red zone, and in the open field, his crisp route running gave him plenty of chances to make plays.
“Mainly, I just have that mindset that when I'm on the field, I'm the best player on the field and nobody's going to stop me from doing what I've got to do to help my team win,” Capers said.
His production and physical attributes drew the attention of plenty of top-tier college programs, but on Dec. 18, he officially made his decision to play at Auburn University. The Tigers were particularly interested, with head coach Gus Malzahn making trips to Denmark to see Capers.
“It's always good to see my head coach come by and come visit,” Capers said. “He's funny. I just love being around him.”
Set to join Capers at Auburn next year is his quarterback, Aaron McLaughlin, who joined the Danes before the season. Getting adjusted to a new signal caller took some getting used to as the season went on, but although they both have a season of experience playing together, they’re looking to get even more acquainted so the connection can stay strong in college.
“We're going to keep going,” Capers said. “We’re going to keep working out with each other and get our chemistry right so when we get to college it won't be an issue. Aaron, he's going to come join the family pretty soon. He's going to keep the ball rolling.”
Capers’ favorite moment of his last high school season came on Nov. 8, when the Danes took town then-No. 8 ranked Flowery Branch. In a season that didn’t turn out exactly how Denmark wanted, it was a game that Capers will look back on fondly as he continues to the next level.
“That was a big game for us,” Capers said. “We lost to them last year, so we had some revenge that we had to get them this year. When we beat them (and) that was a great feeling.
“We had a great season even though the outcome wasn't the way it should have been. We've just got to keep moving forward and just keep our heads high.”