For the first time in its 114 seasons of football, Michigan State will have its first punter as a captain.
Senior punter Aaron Bates has been named along with senior linebacker Greg Jones and junior quarterback Kirk Cousins as captains for the 2010 season.
For Bates, the honor came as a surprise.
"It's such a huge honor," Bates said. "Just to know you have that kind of respect from your teammates is such a big deal. After Coach D told Kirk, Greg and I that we were the captains, we had to address the team. So Kirk and Greg talked, and they've been there before, no big deal, (but when) I started to talk, I couldn't get anything out. Tears were coming down my face, and I'm not much of an emotional guy. People were kind of surprised by that, but that's how much it meant to me.
With the selection of Cousins, the Spartans signal caller has a great chance to join Robert McCurry as the programs only three-time captain if selected next season.
"It's a great honor that I'm very excited to have the opportunity to be able to do," said Cousins on being named a captain for the second year in a row. "It's a great opportunity to lead this football team and be an ambassador for this university, which is an exciting thing.
"I'm really excited about Greg and Aaron being named captains also. It's a great choice to have Aaron. Obviously, Greg has been a captain, but Aaron is going to be a great senior leader for us, and deservedly is a captain.”
Coach Mark Dantonio felt all three players deserved the honors and will add 12 other Spartans during the course of the year.
"All three are outstanding players," said head coach Mark Dantonio. "Greg Jones has played here for four years straight and Kirk Cousins has been a member of this football team for four years. They both played an integral part in terms of leadership last year and did an outstanding job. Aaron Bates has punted for us for four years, he's also our holder, and is on the field a lot for us.
"The other thing we're going to do is that we really elected 12 guys in that capacity of leadership, and one of those nine other guys will captain each game. I've never done that in the past, but I think our guys have earned it. It's important they get an opportunity to lead."
For Greg Jones, adding a second year as captain gives him the feeling of accomplishment and the feeling of respect his teammates have bestowed upon him.
"A lot of respect has been given my way, and I feel like I've earned that, but I also want to be able to give respect too," said Jones. "I just want to get focused for this first game - that's the first goal that we're trying to accomplish as a team."
All three players will look to play key roles in the success of the Spartans this fall. The 2010 season gets underway one week from Saturday as Western Michigan travels to Spartan Stadium for a 12:00 kickoff.