To call mid-January a slow period for Penn State football would be a gross understatement. We’re over 7 weeks removed from the emotional senior day overtime win, there was no bowl game, and recruiting is more or less wrapped up with the scholarship limits. However, as the football squad dives headfirst into Fitz’ off season conditioning program and the Spring semester of classes, we are going to take a look at some of the freshman that some of us (like me, for example) expected to make an impact this past season, but were redshirted for bigger and better things in 2013 and beyond. To start things off, Akeel Lynch.
When Akeel Lynch elected to stay with PSU following the announcement of the NCAA sanctions in July, I thought it was one of the more significant decisions over those couple of weeks. With the transfer of Silas Redd, PSU might not have been thin at the tailback position in terms of bodies, but it was full of unknowns. Bill Belton was, and still is, extremely athletic, but there were a number of questions about how he would adapt to being the prime back. Behind him were the powerful but one dimensional Curtis Dukes, fullback Michael Zordich, and unknowns Zach Zwinak and Derek Day. Of course as the year went on, Belton never recovered from his ankle injury, and Zwinak took advantage of the reps and seized the starting job.
Throughout fall camp, and into the early part of the schedule, the reports on Lynch had many questioning why he was not seeing any action, especially as the ground game struggled to get on track. Once Zwinak and Zordich had settled into their roles, however, the redshirting of Lynch was locked up. Going forward, it’s hard to argue with the decision.
Zwinak will surely be the starter heading into spring practice, but Lynch will be at or near the front of the competition for 2nd string carries along with Bill Belton. People close to the program raved about Lynch’s ability last year, including one report that referred to him as “the most athletic player on the team.” While Zwinak is very much a downhill back, Lynch has the ability and speed to break a run to the outside, while still possessing the size and strength to bang between the tackles. A full year in Fitz’ conditioning program certainly won’t hurt that.
As PSU moves into the “heart’ of the sanctions, the redshirt on Lynch could prove to be a blessing, and just how important keeping him in the fold last summer was.
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