Huskers name Luke Gifford, Stanley Morgan, Mick Stoltenberg and Jerald Foster as captains

Nebraska's Mick Stoltenberg started 12 games at nose tackle in his junior season and recorded 33 tackles and four tackles for loss.

LINCOLN — When Nebraska coach Scott Frost talked to the media Thursday morning, he expected to handle captains one way. By Thursday night, he’d changed his approach.

So Husker players voted receiver Stanley Morgan, offensive guard Jerald Foster, nose tackle Mick Stoltenberg and outside linebacker Luke Gifford as NU’s seasonlong representatives.

“After talking about it and deliberating on it for a while, we decided to keep with Nebraska tradition of having just four captains,” Frost said Thursday night on his Husker Sports Radio monthly show. He said he’d previously used a unity council — from which game captains emerge — but changed it for this year.

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Frost said the four were “pretty clear winners.” Three — Foster, Gifford and Stoltenberg — are from Nebraska. Morgan, who broke NU’s single-season record for receiving yards last season, hails from New Orleans.

Foster is a captain for the second straight season. The Lincoln Southeast graduate earned specific praise from Frost on Monday for his leadership.

“He’s going to get the guys in a huddle if he needs to,” Frost said.

Gifford, Foster’s high school teammate, has battled injuries throughout his career but earned respect from teammates for his playmaking ability when healthy and his willingness to speak up when necessary. Gifford’s voice was notable, former coaches have said, in a second-half comeback last season at Oregon when NU’s defense, after giving up 42 points in the first half, shut out the Ducks in the second half. Both Frost and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander have said Gifford exceeded their expectations in coming back from a hip injury that kept him out of spring camp.

Stoltenberg, from Gretna, has long been an example for other defensive linemen who joke about his “old man” voice while respecting his place in the program. Defensive line coach Mike Dawson has consistently gushed about Stoltenberg’s presence on the defense.

“Mick’s a great guy,” Dawson said. “He’s a clear, distinct leader as far as the program goes. He’s smart in what he says, he talks to other people. He’s very passionate about what we’re all trying to do. Mick’s been awesome since the day we got here.”

Morgan has become more of a vocal leader in his senior year. He represented NU at Big Ten media days and has made himself more available for media interviews. Teammates — and Frost — have respected Morgan’s on-field toughness and passion, especially as a blocker.

“I had to come out of my shell this summer,” Morgan said at Big Ten media days. “I was that quiet leader. Lead-by-example -type guy. But I’m more vocal now.”

For the last three seasons — and most seasons in recent Husker history — Nebraska named captains before the season. During the Bo Pelini era, NU sometimes used game captains, naming permanent captains after the season had ended. Frost hinted after practice Thursday he planned on using game captains in 2018. Instead, the same four seniors will walk out for the coin flip.