Zach Zwinak didn't take the field for a single snap this past weekend at the annual Blue White game. The senior was staying fresh for the grind ahead as both he, Bill Belton, and Akeel Lynch will quite literally carry the burden this upcoming season.
While Zwinak didn't get a chance to impress fans and coaches, running backs coach Charles Huff knows all about what Zwinak brings to the table.
"Zach [Zwinak] is as tough as nails," Huff said. "He runs the ball hard. He runs the ball with a purpose; his strengths are some other people's weaknesses. Very intelligent player, he understands the game, he brings a lot of maturity to our room, to our unit, to our team. I'm really excited to see him cut loose, we didn't really want to cut him loose too much this spring because he bangs people up, white and blue, if you're in his way he's going to hit you. I'm really excited to see his progress."
It stands to reason that Zwinak will be tabbed the starting running back although that may only be formality given how he and Belton have switched in and out of the starting spot the past year. Either way, while Penn State looks to find answers to depth issues across the board, it appears that running back is one area that Franklin and his staff won't have to worry about too much.
Zwinak is currently coming off a 210 carry, 989 yard season in which he battled fumbling issues and split time with Belton in the second half of the season. Zwinak only needs four yards to break the 2,000 yard mark for his career after breaking the 1,000 yard mark his first season when he saw his first significant action.
Belton and Zwinak are well established assets in Penn State's offense, but even so fans will want to see more of Akeel Lynch. The Canadian born runner has shown off his strong running ability when he's had the chance. A three pronged attack wouldn't be unprecedented although how Franklin intends on using his running backs is still unclear.
The darkhorse in the bunch? Sophomore Cole Chiappialle who ran for two scores during the Blue White game, making the most of his opportunity. While he may look to be on the outside of the starting group, never count anyone out, especially with the team under scholarship restrictions.
"From the day we got here in winter conditioning, Cole has been doing a heck of a job for us," Huff said. "The thing about Cole is he does the little things right and the game of football rewards people who do the little things right. He's not the fastest, he's not the biggest and he's not the strongest, but he does the little things right and when you can do that you can create opportunities for yourself."
"It's no different than life, when you do things right you create opportunities for yourself. What Cole has been doing is creating opportunities for himself. So today I was excited for him, definitely proud of him, but I kind of expected that from him."
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