Your 2008 team captains have been announced, and I have mixed reviews.
Defensive end Josh Gaines (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) and safety Anthony Scirrotto (West Deptford, N.J.) were named the defensive captains. Center A.Q. Shipley (Coraopolis) and wide receiver Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.) were named the offensive captains.
In addition, linebacker Sean Lee (Pittsburgh) will serve as an honorary captain in 2008. Lee suffered a serious knee injury earlier this month that will likely keep him off the field this season, but he is planning to return for the 2009 season as a fifth-year senior.
It's unusual to see five captains on a Joe Paterno team. I can't ever recall it. Each guy brings a different personality to the table.
On the offensive side of the ball I'm thrilled with A.Q. Shipley and Derrick Williams being named team captains. Both guys are very vocal leaders and the team responds to them well. Shipley is a guy who will get in your face on the sideline and pump you up to the point you'll want to run through a brick wall or else face his wrath.
Derrick Williams I can see being the face of the team in the media room. He will be the guy in the press conference after every game taking all the tough questions and answering them with a smile on his face. I'm interested to see if he's a guy who will spin every answer into a positive or if he will be willing to call out his teammates and coaches when things don't go our way. In that regard I'm kind of disappointed Deon Butler didn't get the nod. He was always good for telling it like it is. Hopefully he'll still get that role even if the captain title doesn't come with it.
On defense I think our selections of Scirrotto and Gaines show we're lacking leadership. Scirrotto was facing felony charges a year ago. Not exactly the kind of guy you want to push out there as the best we have to offer. But at least we know he's able to rally the troops and put the beatdown on people. Hopefully he can do it on the field as well.
Gaines is a good kid. He does the right things and keeps his nose clean. But he's not a vocal leader. He'll provide a good example in practice, but I don't see the defense rallying around him like they would around a Paul Posluszny. He reminds me a lot of Levi Brown as a leader.
This is why the selection of Sean Lee is so important. Even though he won't be on the field he'll be called upon in practice and on the sideline to provide that vocal spark defenses need when they're clinging to a four point lead late in the fourth quarter.