Nov 17, 2012; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Zach Zwinak (28) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Indiana 45-22. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State Football Top Players-#8 Zach Zwinak

When Eric and I were putting together the schedule for who got to write about each of our top 10 ranked players, most of the decisions were easy.  Zach Zwinak, 8th on our list, was not one of those.  It is not hard to see why either.  Zwinak’s breakout 2012 season, and straight forward, no nonsense style are easy to love.

By now you all know the story of the early season struggles of the Penn State rushing attack.  What is still surprising is that going into the Temple game, Zwinak only had carried the ball a grand total of 3 times, all in the Virginia game.  That afternoon against the Owls, Zach would carry the ball 18 times for 94 yards, and take control of the backfield for the rest of the season.  After that game, he would carry the ball at least 16 times in every game except Ohio State (12 carries).  The season total of 1,000 yards is all the more impressive, given it came in just 9 games (plus 3 carries vs. Virginia).

Looking ahead to 2013, it is hard not to be excited.  For one, Zwinak enters the fall as the guy at tailback, barring an injury.  I’m also encouraged by the depth behind him.  It felt at times last year that the staff was forced to rely on Zwinak because of the lack of options behind him.  This year, a healthy Bill Belton, and promising Akeel Lynch will back up Zwinak.  That three headed monster should get plenty of opportunities, especially early, as the Lions break in a new quarterback.  I’m not sure Zwinak will equal the numbers of last year because of the depth, but it’s hard to argue where he stands, or the importance he has to this team.

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