Cut from an old-school mentality, Zach Zwinak is ready to deliver a blow on every play with a downhill, physically-punishing running style. Zwinak enters his senior season with 1,996 career rushing yards to rank No. 18 on the all-time Penn State list. Having posted one 1,000-yard rushing season and missed a second by just 11 yards, a third similar season would put Zwinak near elite territory, as just six Nittany Lions all-time have eclipsed 3,000 career yards. While some players and teams begin to wear down when the calendar turns to November, Zwinak gets stronger, having posted eight of his 11 career 100-yard rushing games in the month that defines a team's regular-season. In fact, the former Linganore High School All-American has eclipsed the century mark on the ground in the last four games in each of the past two seasons. The relentless Zwinak tallied 563 yards in Penn State's final four games of last season. The hard-nosed runner's 11 100-yard games are tied with D.J. Dozier for 10th place on the all-time Penn State list. Zwinak combined with classmate Bill Belton to rush for 1,792 yards last season and they, along with sophomore Akeel Lynch (358 yards), should comprise one of the Big Ten's most formidable backfields. Zwinak gained a team-high 989 yards on 210 carries (4.7) last season and scored 12 rushing touchdowns. He delivered the team's longest rush of the season, a 61-yard burst late in the fourth quarter to help seal the big win at No. 14 Wisconsin. Playing in all 12 games, with eight starts, Zwinak ranked ninth in the Big Ten in overall rushing yardage at 82.4 yards per game. He was tied for seventh in the Big Ten with 12 touchdowns and ranked eighth in rushing yards per game (86.5) in conference games. Zwinak also brings a ferocious attitude in the strength and conditioning program and trimmed down by several pounds from last season to gain additional speed and quickness. Following another strong off-season in the weight room, Zwinak is primed to be a central figure in the Penn State offense this fall and a probable All-Big Ten candidate. Zwinak graduated in May with a degree in criminology. A starter in 12 career games, he is among seven returning Nittany Lions from Maryland.
2013 (Senior Season)
Finishing with 989 yards on the ground, Zwinak was just 11 yards shy of a second-straight 1,000-yard season. He combined with classmate Bill Belton to rush for 1,792 yards. Zwinak gained a team-high 989 yards on 210 carries (4.7) and scored 12 rushing touchdowns. Playing in all 12 games, with eight starts, Zwinak ranked ninth in the Big Ten in overall rushing yardage at 82.4 yards per game. He was tied for seventh in the Big Ten with 12 touchdowns and ranked eighth in rushing yards per game (86.5) in conference games. Zwinak tallied 563 yards in the final four games, gaining at least 115 yards in all four contests. He posted five 100-yard rushing games, giving him 11 in his career, good for a tie for 10th place with All-American D.J. Dozier. His 12 touchdowns were tied for ninth-highest in Penn State season history. He delivered the team's longest rush of the season, a critical 61-yard burst late in the fourth quarter in the big win at No. 14 Wisconsin. Zwinak gained 61 yards and caught the first pass of Christian Hackenberg's career, a five-yard grab, in the season-opening win over Syracuse. He had seven carries for 43 yards and a pair of touchdown runs in the win over Eastern Michigan. He had a 20-yard carry on third-and-24 to set up a fourth down conversion, which led to his second touchdown run against the Eagles. Zwinak posted his first 100-yard effort of the season against UCF, with 128 yards on 21 attempts. He ran for a career-high three touchdowns against the Knights and had a 38-yard burst at the end of the third quarter to set up his third score of the game. He also made a 19-yard catch to total 147 all-purpose yards. On the Lions' fourth scoring drive against UCF, Zwinak rushed for 44 yards and added his lone reception to account for all 63 yards on the drive. Zwinak tied his career-high with three touchdowns in the win over Kent State. He carried the ball 15 times for 60 yards against the Golden Flashes, including a long of 20 yards in the third quarter. He ran for 72 yards on 17 carries in the Big Ten-opener at Indiana, including a long of 13 yards in the second quarter. Zwinak began a string of four consecutive 100-yard efforts at Minnesota, running for 150 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown. He had a 38-yard burst on the Lions' first scoring drive, gaining 61 yards on five carries on the drive, which he capped with a 12-yard touchdown run. He gained 149 yards on 26 attempts and scored three touchdowns in the 45-21 win over Purdue. The three touchdowns tied his career-high, which he has accomplished five times. Zwinak became the 16th player in school history to register 10-plus rushing touchdowns in a season and moved into a tie for ninth in school history for season rushing touchdowns with 12 (John Cappelletti, 1972; Evan Royster, 2008). Zwinak delivered his 10th career 100-yard rushing effort against Nebraska with 149 yards on 35 carries. The 35 carries were the second-most in his career (36; Wisconsin, 2012). Zwinak recorded his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game, and the 11th of his career, by gaining 115 yards on 22 carries in the big 31-24 win at No. 14 Wisconsin. Zwinak's 61-yard fourth-quarter burst led to a field goal attempt and was the longest run from scrimmage by a Nittany Lion and against the Badgers all season.
2012 (Junior Season)
Zwinak appeared in all 12 games with four starts, earning his first career start at Purdue and starting the final four games of the season. He delivered the 22nd 1,000-yard rushing season in Penn State history and gave the Nittany Lions a 1,000-yard running back for the eighth consecutive year. An honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection, Zwinak became the 14th different Nittany Lion all-time to crack 1,000 yards in a season. After gaining a total of 96 yards in four non-conference games, he delivered 904 yards in eight Big Ten games for an average of 113.0 yards per game, the fifth-highest total in conference play. For the season, Zwinak gained 1,000 yards on 203 carries (4.9) and scored six touchdowns on the ground. He delivered the team's longest rush of the season, a startling 50-yard touchdown burst on the first series of the game at No. 18 Nebraska. Zwinak also caught 20 passes for 177 yards and a score, ranking fifth on the team in receptions. His 1,177 all-purpose yards led the squad. He broke his career-high in rushing yards six times in the final nine games. During the initial three contests of the season, Zwinak had three carries for two yards at Virginia. In the fourth game, against Temple, he broke out with 94 yards on 18 carries and one catch for 12 yards. One week later, he notched his first career 100-yard effort, carrying the ball 19 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-7 win at Illinois to become the 85th Nittany Lion all-time to rush for 100 yards in a game. Zwinak's fourth-quarter workload against the Illini included five consecutive carries for 31 yards, capped by his second one-yard touchdown run of the game. In the 39-28 comeback win over No. 24 Northwestern, Zwinak re-wrote his career-high in the third straight game, gaining 121 yards on 28 carries, with one touchdown. He became just the eighth Nittany Lion to compile his first two 100-yard efforts in consecutive contests. Zwinak ran for 52 yards and had two catches for 24 yards in the 38-14 prime time win at Iowa. In his first career start, Zwinak's 134 yards on 21 carries (6.4 avg.) in the 34-9 victory at Purdue started a string of four consecutive 100-yard games to finish the season. He delivered another superb effort at No. 18 Nebraska, as he ran for 141 yards on 21 carries (6.7) and a touchdown. On the fourth play of the game, Zwinak's 50-yard burst up the middle for a score was Penn State's second-longest play from scrimmage and the longest rush of the season. He also made two catches for 37 yards, including a career long 31-yard effort, against the Huskers for 178 all-purpose yards. Zwinak gained 135 yards on 29 carries and scored a touchdown in the win over Indiana, adding a 16-yard touchdown grab. He reached the 1,000-yard mark for the season exactly on the dot thanks to a career effort in the thrilling 24-21 overtime win over Wisconsin. He re-wrote his career-high for the sixth time of the season with 179 yards on a career-best 36 carries and made three catches for five yards to produce a team season-high and personal career-high 184 all-purpose yards.
2011 (Sophomore Season)
In his first season on the field, Zwinak appeared in two games and gained considerable experience on the practice field. He rushed for seven yards on three carries, gaining six yards in the win over Eastern Michigan. He also recorded a carry in the season-opener against Indiana State.
2010 (Freshman Season)
Redshirt season. Zwinak suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in an October practice and underwent surgery soon thereafter, ending his season.
Zwinak was rated the nation's No. 2 prep fullback at Linganore High School for Coach Richard Conner. Zwinak was one of five future Nittany Lions selected to play in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was named all-state after rushing for 1,447 yards as a junior. As a senior, he ran for 2,109 yards on 164 carries and scored 25 touchdowns. Zwinak was a prep teammate of former Nittany Lion offensive lineman Mike Lucian.
Full name is Zachary Thomas Zwinak. He is the son of B.J. Zwinak and Diane Thomas and has one younger sister, Lisa. His father was a defensive tackle at Virginia Tech, lettering from 1980-83, and his mother was a member of the North Carolina track and field team. Zwinak enjoys hunting, outdoor activities and playing video games in his spare time. He is studying criminology. Born July 29, 1992 in Alexandria, Va.