Aug. 26, 2011
EASTON, Pa. - Seniors Mitchell Bennett (Orange, N.J./Paramus Catholic), Ben Eaton (Baltimore, Md./Gilman School/Mercersburg Academy) and Ryan O'Neil (White Plains, N.Y./Iona Prep) have been named as the Lafayette football team captains for the 2011 season.
The trio was selected in a vote of its peers and announced to the team on Thursday morning. Eleven players in the senior class vied for the leadership position, each making his case in a speech to the team.
"We had very close voting, and the fact that so many players received votes speaks to the confidence our team has in the leadership ability of our senior class," said 12th year head coach Frank Tavani.
Bennett is the first Lafayette player since Ryan Priest '86 in 1985-86 to serve as captain in two straight seasons and the first during Tavani's tenure as head coach.
Bennett, who is playing in his fifth year of eligibility after a medical redshirt, made 33 catches for 394 yards and four touchdowns in 2010, despite battling through a foot injury that required offseason surgery. He is in his third season as a starting wide receiver.
Eaton represents the defensive side of the ball. The starting middle linebacker made 70 tackles with a forced fumble and a blocked kick in 2010. He has played in 22 games in two seasons with 11 starts and will be eligible to return to the squad in 2012 due to a medical redshirt.
At all levels of football, the starting quarterback position is one that is looked to for leadership and O'Neil was an overwhelming choice by his fellow teammates and the coaching staff. In 2010, he completed 67 percent of his passes during his first season as a starter, throwing for 2,183 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The Leopards open the season on Sept 3. in Fargo, N.D., facing preseason No. 11 North Dakota State.