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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin believes the Nittany Lions can never have too much leadership on and off the field.
In addition to Penn State's seven team captains, a group comprising of 27 players adds to the team's leadership. The Penn State Football Leadership Council, which meets at least twice a month, has representatives from each class to keep the players, coach Franklin and the program on the same page.
This year's representatives include seniors Adrian Amos, Brad Bars, Bill Belton, Jesse Della Valle, Miles Dieffenbach, Sam Ficken, Mike Hull, Ryan Keiser, Jesse Merise, C.J. Olaniyan, Devin Pryor, Tyrone Smith, Deron Thompson and Zach Zwinak; juniors Deion Barnes, Kyle Carter, Jesse James, Ben Kline, Jordan Lucas, Angelo Mangiro and Donovan Smith; sophomores Brandon Bell, Christian Hackenberg, Austin Johnson and Akeel Lynch; freshmen Andrew Nelson and Garrett Sickels.
"We meet roughly twice a month to talk about what's going on in the family," Olaniyan said. "It's a great way to talk about all of the positive things that are going on and to discuss how we can improve some of the negatives."
The leadership council is a voice on behalf of the team from the locker room. Additionally, it's a collection of players who can keep Coach Franklin in the loop of how the team is doing and ideas of where things can be improved within the program or the community.
"It's a great way for each class to have a voice and to make sure everyone is on the same page," Hackenberg said. "We are all able to share opinions of what we are seeing and how we can make things better."
"One thing, too, that it has really helped during the past few months is that it has given Coach a chance to know the team a little better," Belton said.
The group, which meets in Coach Franklin's office, brings items to the agenda ranging from which players are performing well to improvements in the amenities in the locker room or player's lounge. Several video game systems were added this summer to the players' lounge.
"Discussing things like the new video games in the lounge are great," Lynch said. "We brought an idea to Coach Franklin as a group, and it is an improvement for collective team."
Both sides - coaches and players - have felt like the leadership council is great for the program.
"It's a direct link from the locker room to Coach Franklin," Lynch said. "I think it's been great. It's a way to talk amongst ourselves and create a collective voice to five Coach Franklin an idea of what is going on in the locker room with a common voice. It's really easy to talk with Coach Franklin as a group."
As the season progresses, the Council may meet more than the usual twice a month as it becomes necessary to do so. With a strong few months of dialogue in place, the consistent leadership from across the roster is a positive for the current team and the future of Penn State Football.