Penn State head coach James Franklin announced on Wednesday that the team has elected seven players to serve as co-captains for the 2014 football season. The team selected two offensive and two defensive co-captains along with three co-captains on special teams.
The co-captains on offense for this season are senior guard Miles Dieffenbach and sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Dieffenbach is expected to miss most of the season with a knee injury he suffered during offseason workouts. Hackenberg is the on-field leader of the offense, having put together a fantastic freshman campaign in 2013. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year is poised for another great season in 2014 and is the second youngest co-captain in Penn State history.
On defense, the co-captains are a pair of seniors in defensive end C.J. Olaniyan and linebacker Mike Hull. Both are expected to be leaders on the defense, with Olaniyan helping to anchor the line and Hull leading from a linebacker position that faces some experience and depth issues this year.
The special teams co-captains are all three seniors. Defensive backs Jesse Della Valle and Ryan Keiser, along with kicker Sam Ficken, were chosen by their teammates to represent the unit. Della Valle plays an important role in the return game, while Keiser has done well on kick and punt coverage. Ficken, who’s had an up-and-down career, has shown much improvement over the past two seasons.
According to the press release, Franklin said that coaches and players all voted on who the captains should be.
“The players and the coaches voted on the team captains and these players have clearly earned the respect of their teammates and coaches. We are trying to promote and develop leadership throughout the entire program and I’m really excited about the role our captains will have throughout the season.”
The Nittany Lions are in the middle of training camp for the 2014 season. They start the year in less than three weeks against UCF in the Croke Park Classic in Ireland.