Among the Penn State running backs pushing for carries this fall is redshirt sophomore Zach Zwinak. The 6-foot-1, 232-pounder from Frederick, Md., is currently sharing reps with Derek Day and Akeel Lynch behind Bill Belton on the depth chart but has been featured in short-yardage and goal-line situations and has, by all accounts, enjoyed a solid preseason camp.
Zwinak is simply glad to be in the mix after a quiet 2011 campaign and a 2010 season ruined by injury. He tore an ACL during October of his true freshman season and was sidelined until the start of 2011 camp. Even then, he eased his way back into action.
"Back in July I felt good. When I came into camp last year I felt 100 percent," he said. "Even now I still feel like I'm working for it, to get back. But I feel great."
Playing behind veterans Silas Redd, Brandon Beachum, Curtis Dukes and Stephfon Green last season, Zwinak saw action in just two games (Indiana State and Eastern Michigan), carrying the ball three times for 7 yards. Like the other Penn State backs, he's adjusting to and enjoying the new offensive scheme.
"It's just different plays, a different way of running," he said. "We're running similar plays but in a different way."
Zwinak enjoys the energy and expertise running backs coach Charles London has brought to the offense.
"He's a great guy," Zwinak said. "He helps me out a lot. If you do something wrong, he explains what you've got to do. He talks it out."
Between Belton's speed and cutback ability, Dukes' power between the tackles and Zwinak's low-to-the-ground approach, London and head coach/offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien have plenty of options and running styles at their disposal.
"It's definitely nice to have guys who can do some different things and have different strengths," London said. "Each guy kind of does his own thing; they're all little artists in their own way about how they run and how they gain yardage for the football team. It's very versatile in there."