Penn State football players and coaches have spoken, their votes have been tallied and the results are in.
The co-captains for the 2014 season are: Senior guard Miles Dieffenbach, sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg, senior linebacker Mike Hull, senior defensive end C.J. Olaniyan, senior safeties Jesse Della Valle and Ryan Keiser and senior kicker Sam Ficken.
“The players and the coaches voted on the team captains and these players have clearly earned the respect of their teammates and coaches,” head coach James Franklin said in a release. “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 captains, two to represent the offense (Hackenberg and Dieffenbach), two to act as the voice of the defense (Hull and Olaniyan) and three for the special teams units (Della Valle, Keiser and Ficken) are the most since the 1976 squad also named seven.
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Of the seven, Della Valle, Dieffenbach and Hull have graduated. Olaniyan and Keiser are set to graduate this week. Ficken is on pace to graduate in December.
All seven are returning lettermen while Dieffenbach, Hackenberg, Olaniyan, Hull, Keiser and Ficken are returning starters on offense or defense. Della Valle has played in every game the last two seasons as a special teams contributor and in the secondary. Dieffenbach will miss the start of the season recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and is trying to return for the final month of the season.
Hackenberg was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season and is the second-youngest Nittany Lion to be named a team captain after freshman John Chuckran in 1944. Chuckran was a captain during World War II. Linebacker Paul Posluszny was the last non-senior to serve as a Penn State captain and was named captain twice from 2005 to 2006.
Former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien opted to name captains for each game over the last two seasons. At the end of each season, O’Brien had the team vote on permanent captains to go into the history books.
donates $1 million
Penn State announced Wednesday at $1 million donation from Paul T. Stecko to be put toward the Football Excellence fund.
As a result, the Nittany Lions’ locker room inside the Lasch Building will be named in honor of the Stecko family.
“The Stecko family has a long-standing relationship with Penn State athletics and we are thankful that they have made this gift to Penn State football,” Director of Athletics Dave Joyner said in a release. “This gift will help give Coach James Franklin the resources to develop outstanding football student-athletes on and off the field.”
The donation will be put toward facilities improvements, equipment purchases, travel and any other needs throughout the season.
Head coach James Franklin thanked the Stecko family in a release provided by Penn State athletics.
Stecko currently serves as the chairman of the board of Packaging Corporation of American after he retired as chairman and CEO. He also was the President and chief operating officer of Tenneco, Inc.
A 1966 graduate of Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in metallurgy, he also has a master’s degree in metallurgical engineering and earned his M.B.A. from Pittsburgh.
He has donated to Penn State for the last three decades with various gifts to the tennis programs, the Levi Lamb Fund and the College of Earth and Mineral Science among other areas.
“Our family is proud to support the efforts of Penn State and Coach Franklin in advancing our tradition of academic and athletic excellence,” Stecko said in a release. “We are enthusiastic about Coach Franklin’s leadership, and we want to give him the resources to realize his ambitious vision for Penn State Football.”