This story first appeared in the Nov. 5 issue of Cal Football GameDay Magazine
By Tim Miguel
Sometimes when you work hard for a chance to show what you can do, you're rewarded with an opportunity falling into your lap when you least expect it.
Will Kapp, a senior fullback on the Cal football team, found his role on the 2011 Golden Bear squad change at the outset of fall training camp. Eric Stevens, the starting fullback entering training camp, suffered a season-ending injury during the team's first day in full pads and Kapp suddenly found himself atop the depth chart as his replacement.
While Kapp would prefer to have his opportunity come under different circumstances, he has taken full advantage of his chance to contribute on the field. His blocking has been a major contributor towards starting tailback Isi Sofele being on pace to become Cal's eighth 100-yard rusher in nine seasons and setting numerous career highs along the way.
Sofele said he was not concerned at all about the difference in production when the news settled in that Stevens was out for the year and that Kapp would be the guy helping open holes for him.
"I was excited for him, Will is a beast," Sofele said. "Every play he goes out there and gives it his all. You never see him come out here in practice and go half speed. He's always going full speed on every drill, just trying to be a beast in everything he does. He's been able to do a lot. He's been able to pick up the blitz with the linebackers coming in. He's able to fit in there in the gaps. He's been doing a great job all season. I can't complain. I feel comfortable with him back there."
Kapp bided his time through his first three seasons at Cal. He worked hard as a key member of the special teams, while also taking big hits on the practice field from former Bear linebackers like Zack Follett and Worrell Williams to help them improve their skill sets. But when his number was called after Stevens went down, Kapp was more than ready to step in.
"I was stoked, there was a lot of hard work that came to fruition," Kapp said. "I don't feel any pressure; it's just fun out there for me. I'm really just trying to hold the rope with Eric not being there, and trying to really fill in and do my best."
Kapp first came to Berkeley as a walk-on and is a candidate for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is given annually to the nation's most outstanding player who began his collegiate career as a walk-on.
Whether he ends up winning that award or not, there's no place Kapp would rather be than at Cal.
"I always wanted to go to Cal, ever since I was a little kid," Kapp said. "As soon as I got the opportunity to walk on, I took it."
When you see Kapp's name on the back of his jersey, it might look a little familiar. That's because Kapp is indeed the son of legendary former Cal player and head coach Joe Kapp, who was the Bears' head coach when Cal beat Stanford with "The Play" in the 1982 Big Game and also in the 1986 Big Game, his last game as head coach at Cal.
As much as his father made a name for himself in Berkeley, Will wants to leave his own legacy at Cal, go down his own path. He gets asked about his father a lot, but he tries not to make a big deal about it.
"I just want to be remembered as a guy who didn't let down his teammates, went out there and went hard every day," Kapp said.
If football was not in the cards for Kapp, he had a fall back option - taekwondo, a hobby in which he earned a black belt as a child. Despite the martial arts being his passion when he was growing up, Kapp knew that football would eventually be his future. He will occasionally do some moves from time to time for fun, but from the seventh grade on, he traded in the belts for pads and never looked back.
Kapp, who said his favorite memory at Cal has been winning road games and celebrating on the road, is looking forward to taking a breather and enjoying life when the 2011 season and his time at Cal comes to a close. He has plans of traveling to Europe and Australia.
As far as where he goes from there, career-wise, Kapp has a few things in mind, but is just going with the flow, seizing his opportunities as they arise.