Nov 30, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Bill Belton (1) rushes for yardage during the game with the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Penn State defeated Wisconsin 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State Football Player Preview: Running Back Bill Belton

Nov 30, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Bill Belton (1) rushes for yardage during the game with the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Penn State defeated Wisconsin 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

We continue previewing the Penn State offense with rising senior running back Bill Belton. Even though Belton was a dual-threat quarterback in high school and started his Penn State career as awide receiver/wildcat quarterback, it’s clear that he has been gradually improving as a true tailback throughout his time in Happy Valley.

Most people forget how highly-recruited Belton was coming out of high school and that he originally committed to the University of Pittsburgh. According to Rivals, Belton was the No. 13 athlete in the country. In addition to Penn State, he held offers from the likes of Florida, Oregon, South Carolina, Nebraska and others. The Sicklerville, NJ native went to Winslow Township High School and starred as quarterback. Belton became the first player in New Jersey history to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in two consecutive seasons.

Back in 2012 after Silas Redd transferred to USC, Bill O’Brien named Belton the starting running back. After getting injured early that season, Zach Zwinak picked up most of the running back responsibilities and Belton had a very inconsistent 2012 campaign. Despite beginning that season as the starter, Belton only had 60 carries and Zwinak ended up with 203.

Then in 2013, Belton and Zwinak were basically co-starters and each had big moments as juniors. The division of reps was a lot more even last season, as Belton carried the ball 157 times and Zwinak carried it 210 times.

Now that Akeel Lynch got a taste in the backfield as a redshirt freshman last season, expect even morecarries to be given to Lynch and for Belton and Zwinak to once again vie for the bulk of the reps.

Regardless of who the running back is in that first huddle in Ireland, Belton, assuming he stays healthy,should get about 200 carries in 2014 and hopefully he can hit the 1,000 yard mark in his final season as a Nittany Lion.

 

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