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Only Zach Zwinak Until Penn State Football

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Eric Francis

Zach Zwinak entered the 2013 as Penn State's backup fullback. He finished it as just the 14th Nittany Lion to rush for 1000 yards--maybe the first to rush for exactly 1000 yards--an accomplishment made all the more impressive considering that in Penn State's first 3 games, the Maryland native had a total of 3 runs for 2 yards.

Yes, Zwinak was a revelation last year, a bulldozing, tackle-breaking, always-falling-forward, reincarnation-of-Mike-Alstott-and-instantly-your-favorite-player revelation, who almost singlehandedly turned running back from a position of weakness, following the business decision transfer of RB25, into yet another strength on an offense unexpectingly bursting with them. His final four games made for as good a month as any Penn State back has had in recent memory, as he ran for 589 yards in November--capping it off with a 179-yard performance in the finale in which Zwinak outdueled Montee Ball in what was then, and is now, an instant classic.

Given the reemergence of Bill Belton this offseason, after a 2012 season plagued by injury and setback, and the addition of Akeel Lynch, Zwinak might not have to shoulder as large a load in 2013 as he did last year. And that's a good thing. Come the fourth quarters of games, unleashing a well-rested Zwinak on a tired defense is almost like calling in a cheat code for Bill O'Brien.