After a disappointing 2–8 season culminating in a heartbreaking loss to Harvard, Yale football is already preparing for next year.
In an election held Friday before The Game, the Bulldogs elected Beau Palin ’14 captain for the 2013 season. The results of the voting were announced at the annual football banquet the following Monday.
“I am honored, humbled and very excited,” Palin said. “It will be a tremendous challenge if I do it right. I have great teammates who are also huge leaders, so I know I’m not going to be the only leader on this team. I’m excited to take the next step with this team.”
Defensive line coach Dwayne Wilmot praised the selection.
“He will be a great ambassador for Yale football for years to come,” Wilmot said.
Palin’s election brings an end to an ugly chapter in the Bulldogs’ captaincy, one that began with 2012 captain-elect Will McHale’s arrest following a brawl at Toad’s Place this past spring.
Palin, a defensive end this season, has played at multiple positions on both sides of the ball. Recruited as a tight end, he played that position through his sophomore year until moving to defense this year out of consideration for “what was best for the team,” Wilmot said. Despite being new to defense, the 6-foot-3-inch, 247-pound Wisconsin native tied for the team lead with 4 sacks and led Yale defensive ends with 43 tackles.
Asked what the Bulldogs were looking for in a captain after a trying season, Wilmot said the position required “the ability not only to work hard yourself but to galvanize your teammates … to be a teammate, a friend, a brother if necessary.”
“If you’re going to lead, you have to care about the people you’re leading, and Beau cares about the game — he cares about his teammates,” Wilmot said.
Defensive back Max Napolitano ’14 said Palin has the utmost respect of his teammates and is a reassuring presence in the locker room. He cited Palin’s decision to attend and direct voluntary summer workouts as evidence of his dedication to the team, also noting the benefits of having a captain who has succeeded at multiple positions.
Palin’s would-be predecessor, linebacker Will McHale ’13, was lined up to assume the captaincy this season until the fallout from a fight at Toad’s led to the suspension of his captaincy on Aug. 4. No replacement was chosen, and the Bulldogs played the 2012 season without a captain for the first time in the history of Yale football. Each week a senior “team leader” was elected by the players to give a pre-game speech and represent Yale at the coin toss, duties traditionally performed by the captain. Palin, Wilmot and Napolitano all declined to speak on the subject, deferring to head coach Tony Reno, who could not be reached for comment. Wilmot, though, expressed satisfaction at Palin’s election.
“We’re excited to get back to the way Yale football has traditionally been,” Wilmot said.
Palin, Yale’s 136th football captain, remains optimistic about the future of the program.
“From the outside looking in, last year was a forgettable season,” he said. “But within the team, that’s absolutely not true. We are not OK with a 2–8 season, but we feel that the future is bright.”
Like the rest of Yale’s rising seniors, Palin has only one opportunity remaining to beat Harvard during his career. Yet he declined to discuss the Elis’ chances.
“We’re just going to take every game one at a time,” Palin said.