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Predicting Your 2010 Penn State Football Captains

In six days Penn State will kick off the 2010 season against Youngstown State (Noon on Big Ten Network.)  We still don't know the starting quarterback and probably won't until Friday or even Saturday.  As fans eagerly await that decision, a less discussed national topic will be decided in the next few days: the 2010 captains for the Penn State football team.

Being selected a captain, regardless of the sport you play, is an honor and a privilege.  Great captains can inspire their teammates to do things they never thought possible (remember the photo of Paul Posluszny, Alan Zemaitis, and Michael Robinson holding hands waiting to enter Beaver Stadium, they were big time leaders.) Each season, the players vote on who they think will best represent the team, both on and off the field.  Certain players are a lock to be selected captain because of what they do for the team on the field (Daryll Clark, Paul Posluszny, Sean Lee, and Mike Reid come to mind) and sometimes, the decision is based more on the perception of importance (Anthony Morelli), instead of actual leadership ability.

For 2010, there is one clear cut choice (Stefen Wisniewski) and a few potentially great options.  Time to meet the contenders.


The Lock

Stefen Wisniewski has been an impact player since his freshman season (one of two true freshmen to start a game that season.)  Wisniewski was selected first-team All-Big Ten at center in 2009 and is a pre-season All-American in 2010.  He is the best and most physical offensive lineman on the team and his do anything for the team mentality (switched positions twice in his career for the betterment of the team) is something you look for in a leader.  Wisniewski is also an outstanding student earning academic All-Big Ten honors and he should be in the running for academic All-American honors this season.

The Probables

Evan Royster is 418 yards away from becoming the all-time leading rusher in Penn State history.  He is also the best player on offense.  Typically a QB makes an excellent captain, but with all of the starting candidates sophomore or younger, the team will look to Royster to shoulder a bigger leadership role this season.   Royster's production on the field speaks for itself, first-team All-Big Ten, Doak Walker watch list candidate, 8th leading rusher in Penn State's history. The knock on Royster is that he is not a vocal, rah-rah guy.  However, you don't need to be that type of guy to be an excellent leader.  Royster is a lead by example guy and there is no better guy on the team to follow then him.

Ollie Ogbu is the mouth piece of the 2010 Penn State defense.  The team will look for him to replace first-round NFL draft pick, Jared Odrick, not an easy task, but Ogbu has the tools to make it happen.  You need to have a defensive captain and since many of the key players on the Lions defense are young, Ogbu fits the bill.  Ogbu did have some off the field issues earlier in his career, but in recent years he has been the model Penn State student athlete.  Ogbu will look to have an outstanding senior season, however with a deep talent pool in the Big Ten, Ogbu might not receive the national recognition some of his former defensive teammates received in recent years.

Graham Zug is everything that Penn State strives to be.  A former walk-on, Zug earned a scholarship and a starting role in the vaunted Spread HD.  In 2009, Zug was the second leading receiver on the team (46 catches for 600 yards) with a team leading seven TD catches.  A BSD favorite, Zug is a humble, hardworking kid who would make an outstanding captain.  Zug's success on and off the field shows future walk-ons that hard work and determination will pay off.

Bani Gbadyu would definitely meet the LB requirement for the captaincy.  In recent years, Penn State has had a LB at captain.  Bani has had some opportunities in recent years to lock down a starting job, and although he has not, Gbadyu has some life experiences that no child should ever have to experience (he is from war torn Liberia.)  He hits like a truck on the field and would make an excellent lead by example captain.

The Outsiders

Brett Brackett has been an excellent ambassador off the field for Penn State.  He is the President of the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes (founded by former Nittany Lions receiver Scott Shirley.)  Although Brett finds himself as the 5th or 6th WR this season, Terell Golden proved in recent years that you don't have to be the star QB or WR to become captain.

Chris Colasanti is the starting middle linebacker at "Linebacker U", which holds some weight.  He has been a guy that has yet to live up to his potential, in part due to injuries and also due to the players in front of him (Dan Connor, Sean Lee, Josh Hull.)  He meets the criteria of being a senior, so that's a plus.  He is also an outstanding student, but is he captain material?

Drew Astorino and Jack CrawfordPenn State doesn't typically have junior captains (exceptions to the rule are Reid, Smear, Posluszny), but  Astorino and Crawford certainly have the pedigree.  Crawford is the best defensive lineman (and possibly player) on the defense.  He has had a meteoric rise including earning playing time (at DT) during his freshman season (in case you haven't heard, Jack is from England and didn't start playing football until HS, but you'll hear about that at least once a broadcast for the first 8 games.)  Astorino has show flashes of greatness and flashes of inconsistency, but above all, he has always been an outstanding competitor.  Neither are very vocal, but they could be if they were named captain.

Had Michael Mauti not injured his knee last season and had a monster sophomore season, we here at BSD feel he would be in the running to be the first junior captain since fellow LB Paul Posluszny (before Poz, Mike Reid and Steve Smear were selected junior captains way back in 1968.) 

2010 is one of those years were the options for the gig are limited (big shout out to Pat Devlin) but whoever gets the job will be an outstanding representation of the university and the team.  The over under for number of captains is 3.5...take the under.