With just over a week to go until Penn State’s season opener against Kent State, the team officially named its 2016 captains Tuesday afternoon.
Senior linebacker Brandon Bell is the Nittany Lions’ defensive captain, senior center Brian Gaia is the offensive captain and senior linebacker Von Walker is the captain of special teams.
Teammates and coaches decided upon the three leaders by way of vote.
The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Bell, started 11 games in 2015 (he missed two due to injury) as the team’s strong side linebacker. The New Jersey native ranked fifth on the team with 36 tackles and second in tackles for loss with 12 1/2. He also had an interception and 25-yard return.
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Gaia shifted from guard and tackle to center immediately after Penn State’s season ended last winter — and also shifted from the defensive line to the offensive line after his freshman season. He will be snapping out of shotgun to the team’s yet-to-be-named starting quarterback in a new uptempo spread offense this season.
Walker, a Lock Haven native, climbed his way up the team’s ranks from a walk-on his freshman year to an impact special teams player who earned a scholarship for his efforts within the unit. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound linebacker is a second-year captain, and also rotates in with the defense on the second team.
Penn State begins its 2016 season on Sept. 3.