Player Spotlight: Bill Belton

Story posted November 7, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Brendan May

The transition from high school football to big-time college football is an extremely difficult one. So many top recruits flame out, because they cannot meet the demands that playing in front of upwards of 100,000 screaming fans require. Now, imagine having to make that same transition, plus, being asked to change positions while doing it. This exact scenario played out for current Penn State running back, Bill Belton.

As head coach Bill O'Brien explained in his weekly press conference, Belton began his career at a different spot on the field. O’Brien said he saw a thick player with some quickness catching balls out of the slot as a receiver and running the ball as a, “wildcat” QB. He imagined a different role, however. 

Belton's second season was his coaches first. The crafty O'Brien immediately had the speedster take snaps at tailback. Belton rose to third on the depth chart his sophomore year and finished a close second in yards per carry to then starter, Zach Zwinak. On just 69 touches, Belton amassed over 300 yards.

This year completed Belton's ascension up the depth chart. Of course, the last domino to fall was Zach Zwinak's inability to hold onto the football. After jostling all year for first-string status, Penn State's game against Ohio State seems to have been the last nail in Zwinak's proverbial coffin.

In that blowout Penn State loss, Zwinak fumbled the ball early in the game. Cameras picked up O'Brien yelling at the former 1,000-yard rusher on the sideline, and Zwinak never saw the field in the game again. Belton, on the other hand, was the only bright spot for Penn State in the game. He rushed for close to 100 yards.

If that game was Belton's coming out party, Penn State's game against Illinois cemented his status as the Nittany Lion's top back. Belton racked up 201 rushing yards in the matchup.

Brendan May is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email