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Penn State Football: Lynch Ready To Leave His Mark On Running Game

by on April 16, 2015 6:00 AM

Akeel Lynch has waited a long time for this.

Over two years to be exact. Time spent waiting his turn behind established running backs. Waiting his turn to show that he could do the job just as well, if not better, than those who came before him.

But that doesn't mean Lynch doesn't appreciate what comes with having to bide your time. Maybe it has taken a few years for him to become Penn State's top running back, but that time has helped get him to this point. It has helped him get even better.

"I think I did a lot in those two years to develop and put myself in this position to be the older guy in the room," Lynch said. "I don't think that if I had to play right away I would be as effective because I have learned so much. Even though at the time I didn't see it, it was helpful and your time comes."

Now Lynch must shift gears. He goes from being the guy who would chip in from time to time, to a player who will be a major part of the offense. Lynch may be ready for this moment, but it will still take some getting used to.

"It's more of a change in mentality," said Lynch. "Being the No. 1 guy is a lot different than coming off the bench. Just knowing that the team needs you to be the No. 1 guy, you know that you have to do all of the things necessary to be a good running back."

At 6-feet, 220-pounds the Canadian born junior is ready to make "Big Maple" a household name. Last November, Lynch showed fans what he can do with back-to-back games of 130 or more yards.

Lynch's focus now is taking care of the ball, improving his communication and working on his pass protection skills. He is ready, but he also knows he has work left to do.

"The spring has gone really well," Lynch said. "It's the second year so the offense is moving a lot more smoothly. The game has slowed down. Communication is a lot better for everyone. Pass protection has slowed down a lot for more, but it's still about picking up blitzes faster. Definitely during this spring ball, I've seen a lot of improvement with myself. I'm getting more confident and I'm picking up blitzes a lot faster and getting in a lot better body position."

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On Saturday Lynch will take the field as Penn State's primary running back for the first time in his career. It may not be the biggest game of his life, but there's no doubt it's a moment that was a long time in the making.

"I've always tried to prepare myself for this role," said Lynch. "You've got to be the guy to go out there and make plays, run the ball, block, catch the ball out of the backfield. You have to go out there and make the plays to win the game."

 

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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