Lynch Continues Legacy of No. 22
On the same day that Penn State honored the school’s lone Heisman Trophy winner, by retiring the number 22, fans got their first glimpse of who will be the last player to bear the number.
Redshirt freshman running back Akeel Lynch, the next in line of great Penn State tailbacks to wear 22, saw his first action in the backfield against Eastern Michigan. And he certainly didn’t disappoint.
The hype around Lynch stems back to last season and his performance during practice. After taking a redshirt year, Lynch entered spring practice behind Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton. Every report from the spring indicated that Lynch was not only going to see playing time, but may be the most explosive back of the bunch.
Lynch didn’t receive a carry in last weekend’s game against Syracuse, only seeing time on special teams, which came as a surprise to many. But head coach Bill O’Brien ensured all week that Lynch would assume a larger role against Eastern Michigan.
The Toronto, Ontario, native had his coming out party today in front of whom better than Mr. 22 himself—John Cappelletti. Lynch led the team with the 13 carries for 108 yards, including a 18-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter.
The former Gatorade High School Player of the Year in New York showed today what many had talked about for the past 12 months. At 6’0 and 210 pounds, Lynch presents a prototypical running back presence that Penn State didn’t really have in Zwinak and Belton.
Zwinak is your big, tough, bruising back but lacks top end speed. On the flip side Belton has the quickness and shiftiness, but has always had the feel of a slot type receiver (where he began his career) rather than a true running back.
Lynch presents the best of both worlds. He showed the ability to break tackles and fight for extra yards. At the same time, his 4.48 speed is among the best on the team. Already drawing comparisons to another great Penn State back—Curt Warner—the native Canadian has the chance to become the best back Happy Valley has seen in some time.
Following the Cappelletti ceremony at halftime, the big question was whether or not Lynch would continue to wear the famed number 22. Well that question was quickly put to rest after the game as Lynch took to Twitter to thank the 1973 Heisman Trophy Winner for allowing him to wear the number.
“I really want to thank Mr. John Cappelletti for letting me keep number 22 for the rest of my career at Penn State.”
Matt Lawrence is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and economics. To contact him email email@example.com.