Earlier today, Penn State football officially announced their 2016 team captains: Senior linebackers Brandon Bell and Von Walker and senior center Brian Gaia.
These designations are no doubt well-deserved for all three of these seniors. Bell committed to Penn State during the magical 2012 season, taking a leap of faith in the program after seeing Bill O’Brien and his ‘bunch of fighters’ out-perform expectations. Bell would go on to see increased action towards the latter half of his freshman season in 2013 and would swiftly become one of PSU’s key players in the linebacking corps. In 2015, he had 65 total tackles, which included 12.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks (including this clutch play that helped save PSU from yet another embarrassing defeat to Maryland).
Walker is the quintessential feel-good story of how a kid who grew up in Central PA and always dreamed of running out of the Beaver Stadium tunnel while donning the blue and white not only realized his dream, but also was a key contributor, as well. His play on special teams and in the kick return game during his first two seasons were good enough to earn him a scholarship offer and captaincy in 2015. As a result, Walker has joined elite company by becoming only the eighth player in PSU football history to be a multi-year captain.
Gaia initially joined the program thinking he would make a name for himself on the defensive line. As you know by now though, the offensive line had a bit of a depth issue and in 2014, he was switched over to a position he was unfamiliar with. Needless to say, Mr. Gaia did in fact, go through some growing pains his last couple of years but now in his final year, he looks to make the most of his opportunity firmly entrenched as the team’s starting center and (hopefully) benefitting from upgrades at offensive coordinator and offensive line coaching in Joe Moorhead and Matt Limegrover, respectively.
Congratulations to all three well-deserving captains!