Matthew O'Haren- USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belton is Penn State's Most Improved Player

Bill Belton began last season as Penn State’s starting running back after former starter Silas Redd transferred to USC. However, an injury in the season-opener all but stopped his season before it really got going. When Belton did return healthy, he was plagued by inconsistent play and lost his starting job to Zach Zwinak.

Belton finished last season with just 258 rushing yards and three touchdowns. All three touchdowns came in a game at Iowa.

Things have quickly turned in Belton’s favor this season. Zwinak, who opened the season as the starter, has recently struggled. Meanwhile, Belton has found his stride in the backfield for the Nittany Lions. So far, he’s rushed for 467 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also added nine catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

Belton has easily looked like Penn State’s best rusher over the last few weeks.

He ended the upset win over Michigan by scoring a touchdown in the fourth overtime and in the next game, seemed to be the only Nittany Lion who could find any running room at Ohio State. Against the Buckeyes, Belton carried the ball 22 times for 98 yards.

Belton’s best game of the season came against Eastern Michigan, rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

The junior running back has completely turned around his collegiate career. He’s now a legitimate threat both running and catching the ball out of the backfield. Entering this season, there was even talk that Belton would be third on the depth chart behind Zwinak and redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch.

That hasn’t happened, as Belton has been the most consistent back for the Nittany Lions over the last few weeks.

After losing his starting job last season, he gets another opportunity as the starter this week against Illinois. Sure, the season has only just passed the halfway point, but Belton has by far been the most improved Penn State player so far this season.

Follow VBR Co-Editor Barry Leonard Jr. on Twitter

 

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Tags: Akeel Lynch Bill Belton Football Penn State Nittany Lions Zach Zwinak

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