Following the annual Blue-White Game at Beaver Stadium, Penn State coach James Franklin announced three of the team’s 2023 captains
Franklin said the team will “possibly add three more,” once the team gets through summer training camp, but for now, here’s a breakdown of the three that Franklin named.
DEFENSE: KEATON ELLIS
At this point, anybody who played for Penn State B
before COVID-19 is a savvy veteran. Ellis, a State College native now playing in his fifth season at Penn State, certainly fits that description. Ellis became a regular in Manny Diaz’s defense last season and is set to be part of a deep safeties room again in 2023. Penn State’s No. 1 safety last year, Ji’Ayir Brown, is less than two weeks away from being selected in the NFL Draft, and it won’t be easy filling Brown’s cleats, either in on-field talent or in leadership. Ellis’s play on the field isn’t likely to reach Brown’s level, but he’s clearly shown enough to Franklin and Penn State as a leader to earn a captaincy.
OFFENSE: OLU FASHANU
This won’t surprise anybody. Fashanu, now in his fourth season, is possibly Penn State’s best all-around player, and he would have likely gone in the first round of this month’s Draft if he decided to declare. Instead, he’s back at Penn State and ready to ball out. Fashanu is brilliant even off the field—like, academic Heisman brilliant— so that, along with his talent and experience, makes him an obvious choice for the captaincy. Sixth-year Quarterback Sean Clifford was the unquestioned leader of the offense last season, and although Clifford’s likely successor, Drew Allar, is a good bet to grow into that role, having Fashanu’s veteran presence will be extra helpful to a team with a young quarterback. If Fashanu is healthy—he missed Penn State’s last five games last season with an injury— he’ll be a force, and that NFL pay day won’t be far away.
SPECIAL TEAMS: DOMINIC DELUCA
DeLuca isn’t as known to Penn State football fans as the first two. He plays linebacker, but is a captain because of his work on special teams. DeLuca became one of Penn State’s unsung heroes in 2022 for his work on punts and kickoff returns, and that work ethic earned him a earned him a scholarship, which the world found out about the day after Penn State’s Rose Bowl win over Utah. DeLuca is easy to cheer for. He’s a local guy (West Pittson) and cut his teeth for two seasons without a scholarship. His work last season earned him Penn State’s Outstanding Run-on Award, along with running back Tank Smith. Now, he’s on scholarship, and he’s a captain.