Apr 12, 2014; State College, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Akeel Lynch (22) runs with the ball in the first quarter of the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren- USA TODAY Sports

Penn State Football Player Preveiw: Running Back Akeel Lynch

Akeel Lynch heads into the 2014 season behind a pair of senior running backs in Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton. The redshirt sophomore, who hails from Attica, New York, will look to improve upon the numbers he put up last season.

Last year, behind Zwinak and Belton, Lynch carried the ball 60 times for 358 yards rushing and one touchdown. He made appearances in seven of twelve games and carried the ball at least five times in six of those games. His biggest performances of the season came against Eastern Michigan where he rushed 13 times for 108 yards and in the Kent State contest where he rushed a career high fourteen times for 123 yards.

Ranked as a 4-star prospect out of high school by 247Sports, Lynch was the New York Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior in high school. Despite a season-ending knee injury, Lynch carried the ball 121 times for 909 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior in high school. He was his team’s leading rusher and second-leading receiver as he hauled in 12 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown.

Although Lynch may be third on the depth chart he has the highest potential of the three backs. He possesses a combination of speed, cutback ability and power that Zwinak and Belton lack at times. As Zwinak is more powerful between the tackles and Belton is best to get to the edge, Lynch is a hybrid of the two. His combo of power and speed make him a threat every time he touches the ball.

If history decides to repeat itself, we can expect the trio of backs to split carries much like they did last season. Last season at Vanderbilt, Franklin and his staff had a trio of backs that recorded at least 81 carries each. If Zwinak can reduce his tendency to fumble he’ll again be the work horse of the backfield. You can expect for Belton and Lynch to both improve upon their carries and yardage from last season as this is the last year Lynch will have to fill in behind a pair of seniors.

 

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