Sophomore Hackenberg among seven captains for Lions

There’s little question quarterback Christian Hackenberg is Penn State’s most important player this season, and he’s already made history even before the start of his sophomore campaign.

Hackenberg was selected as one of the Nittany Lions’ team captains, becoming the first sophomore in program history to earn that distinction. He is not the youngest captain ever, though, as that was freshman John Chuckran in 1944.

The Lions will have seven captains this season. Senior guard Miles Dieffenbach is the other offensive captain, while the defensive honors go to senior linebacker Mike Hull and senior end C.J. Olaniyan. The special teams captains are senior place-kicker Sam Ficken, senior Jesse Della Valle and senior Ryan Keiser.

“The players and the coaches voted on the team captains, and these players have clearly earned the respect of their teammates and coaches,” PSU coach James Franklin said in a university statement. “We are trying to promote and develop leadership throughout the entire program, and I’m really excited about the role our captains will have throughout the season.”

$1 million gift

The PSU football program has been given a $1 million gift by alum Paul T. Stecko, and the team’s locker room in the Lasch Building will be named after Stecko’s family.

The money goes to the Football Excellence Fund, which provides financial support for various upgrades and other discretionary expenses.

Stecko graduated from Penn State in 1966, and ironically, he also earned an MBA from Pitt. He has been a major donor to PSU for more than 30 years.

“We are very grateful to Paul Stecko and his family for this very generous gift to our football program,” Franklin said in a university statement. “The support from the Stecko family will provide us with the resources to give our football student-athletes an unrivaled experience here at Penn State.”