STATE COLLEGE – Penn State head football coach James Franklin Wednesday announced that seven Nittany Lions have been elected co-captains by their teammates and the coaching staff.
Two offensive and two defensive co-captains were elected and three special teams co-captains were elected.
The defensive co-captains are senior linebacker Mike Hull (Canonsburg) and senior defensive end C.J. Olaniyan (Warren, Mich.).
The offensive co-captains are senior guard Miles Dieffenbach (Pittsburgh) and quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.), who becomes the first sophomore to be selected a Penn State football captain.
The special teams co-captains are senior safeties Jesse Della Valle (Pittsburgh) and Ryan Keiser (Selinsgrove) and senior placekicker Sam Ficken (Valparaiso, Ind.).
“The players and the coaches voted on the team captains and these players have clearly earned the respect of their teammates and coaches,” Franklin said. “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 seven co-captains are tied for the most in Penn State’s 128 years of varsity football with the 1976 squad coached by Joe Paterno. The 1991 squad featured six captains.
Hackenberg, the 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, is the second-youngest Nittany Lion to be named a team captain. Freshman John Chuckran was the captain of the 1944 squad during World War II. A 2013 first-team True Freshman All-American, Hackenberg is the first non-senior to serve as a Penn State co-captain since junior Paul Posluszny in 2005. The Pro Bowl linebacker was a two-time Nittany Lion team captain, first-team All-American and Bednarik Award honoree in 2005 and ‘06.
Della Valle, Dieffenbach and Hull earned their degrees in May and Keiser and Olaniyan will graduate this week. Ficken is on schedule to graduate in December, in 3 1/2 years. Della Valle, Dieffenbach, Ficken, and Keiser are two-time Academic All-Big Ten honorees and Hull is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection (3.0 GPA and a letterwinner).
-Penn State Athletic Communications