Few players approached Penn State's Blue-White Game with as much excitement as redshirt freshman running back Akeel Lynch.
Lynch said he agreed with the coaches' decision to redshirt him last fall.
"I came out the tunnel and I had the jitters," Lynch said. "I had the same jitters against Ohio, but this time I knew I was going to get in."
With Bill Belton sidelined with a minor toe injury and Zach Zwinak suffering a wrist or hand injury early in the first quarter, Lynch got more work than he might have anticipated in his Beaver Stadium debut. He made the most of it, running for 83 yards and a first-quarter touchdown on a game-high 13 carries in White's 67-47 loss to Blue.
Lynch displayed his speed (he's been recently clocked at 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash), cutback ability and his power, turning in a 27-yard run up the sideline and a 1-yard scoring plunge. The performance of the Toronto native didn't come as a surprise to teammates, who have watched Lynch do the same things while splitting reps with Zwinak and Belton this spring.
"We all kinda knew the plays he could make," wide receiver Allen Robinson said. "He's strong, fast, a tough worker, explosive. We know the type of runner that he can be."
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien praised his tailback after the game and said he's been encouraging Lynch to "keep his pad level low." The 6-foot, 214-pounder grinned when that comment was relayed to him a few minutes later.
"I'm just trying to stay lower, get my head flexible," Lynch said. "It's really running with my base wider, lowering my upper body and getting my hips down as I run through contact."
Lynch said he felt O'Brien and the staff made a "great decision" to redshirt him last fall.
"When I look back on it, being able to be on the scout team and go against guys like Gerald Hodges and Mike Mauti day in and day out, I loved it," he said.
Nittany Lions held out with injuries included running backs Belton and Jack Haffner, tight ends Adam Breneman (knee), Kyle Carter (wrist) and Matt Lehman (shoulder), defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (back), linebacker Ben Kline (shoulder), wide receiver Brandon Moseby-Felder (unspecified), offensive tackle Kevin Blanchard (unspecified) and safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong (shoulder).
Defensive end C.J. Olaniyan and cornerback Jordan Lucas received the Jim O'Hora award for the most improved defensive players, center Ty Howle won the Red Worrell award for most improved offensive player and linebacker Mike Hull and left guard Miles Dieffenbach won the Frank Patrick Total Commitment award.
Saturday's estimated attendance was 28,000. ... Austin Johnson led all defensive players with five tackles and had two of Blue's nine sacks. ... Run-on Deron Thompson led White with 97 yards on 12 carries, including a 41-yard run. ... Converted wide receiver Trevor Williams had two pass breakups in his debut at cornerback.
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