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Number of captains a good sign for Rutgers football

Strong leadership on the roster is evident.

Rutgers v Maryland
Olakunle Fatukasi lines up for a socially distanced 2020 coin flip. Fatukasi is one of six captains for Rutgers in 2021.
Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

Rutgers released a list of the teams six captains on Sunday and there wasn’t much of a surprise. The captains were selected via a team vote and are as follows: Olakunle Fatukasi, Adam Korsak, Bo Melton, Isaih Pacheco, Julius Turner and Noah Vedral.

Fatukasi has been named to the Bednarik Award, Butkus Award and Nagurski Trophy watch lists. The Bednarik Award is given to the best defensive player as seen by the Maxwell Football Club. The Butkus Award is given to the top linebacker and the Nagurski Trophy is given to the best defensive player judged by the Football Writers Association of America.

Korsak was named to the Ray Guy Award watch list for the fourth time in four years. He was a semifinalist in 2019. The award is given to the nation’s best punter according to the Augusta Sports Council. Korsak is also a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.

Melton has been selected to the Biletnikoff Award watch list for the second year in a row, given to the most outstanding receiver regardless of position as seen by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc.

Pacheco, Turner or Vedral were not named to any preseason watch lists, but Vedral is a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. Pacheco, however, was named to the Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch list along with fellow captains Melton and Fatukasi.

No matter the watch lists and achievements, coach Schiano so the biggest thing is for the captains to do what they’ve done to get to this point.

“The thing that I’ve always told captains is it’s a great honor to be a captain,” Schiano said. “But why did you get named a captain? By your actions and how you carried yourself. You don’t need to change now because someone put a tag on you and put a ‘C’ on you. Go out and be who you’ve been.”

In 2020, Fatukasi, Korsak and Melton were also voted as captains by a team vote. Lawrence Stevens was voted a captain last season on special teams but the 2021 iteration has just Korsak as a special teams captain. Melton, Pacheco and Vedral will represent the offense while Fatukasi and Turner were voted as defensive captains.

2020 saw Fatukasi lead the Big Ten in tackles per game with 11.2 and be voted First Team All-Big Ten by the media. Korsak was second-best in net punt yards in the Big Ten last season, averaging 42.27 yards. Melton had the third-most total touchdowns in the Big Ten in the shortened 2020 season with nine. Pacheco was the eighth leading rusher in the conference last season with 515 rushing yards. Turner was an honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media and coaches in 2020 and leads the defense with 31 career starts. Vedral ranked third in the Big Ten in completion percentage last year with 61.5 percent.

Schiano was pleased with the increase of captains from four in 2020 to six this year, even if he believes some of it was due to the blanket year of eligibility and super seniors. Schiano said he doesn’t put a cap on the number of captains and looks for a clear line of where the votes break between groups.

“That’s a signal we have six guys that the entire football team really looks up to and admires and wants to be like and please them. So that’s important,” said Schiano.