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July 17, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The Penn State running back tandem of Bill Belton (Sicklerville, N.J.) and Zach Zwinak (Frederick, Md.) are among the 53 players on the preseason Doak Walker Award watch list for the nation's premier running back, the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced today. Penn State is one of seven school's with multiple candidates on the Walker watch list.
The Doak Walker Award is given annually to the nation's top running back for his accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community. The award has been given annually since 1989. Penn State first-team All-American Larry Johnson was the 2002 recipient of the Doak Walker Award.
Belton is coming off of his most productive season in the Blue & White. He finished second on the team with 1,036 all-purpose yards, including 803 rushing yards on 157 carries. Belton, who scored five touchdowns a year ago, became the first Nittany Lion to eclipse the 200-yard rushing mark in a game since 2002 (Larry Johnson vs. Michigan State) with 201 yards in the win over Illinois. For his efforts against the Illini, Belton earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors. Belton also joined the elite group of Nittany Lions with 1,000 career rushing yards and currently ranks 35th on the list with 1,131 yards. Against Eastern Michigan, Belton (108 yards) combined with Akeel Lynch(108 yards) to become the 32nd Penn State running back combo to rush for 100 yards in the same game and the first since 2010 against Northwestern (Evan Royster/Silas Redd). Belton was also a threat in the air, finishing tied for sixth on the team with 15 receptions for 158 yards and two scores, with a long catch of 30 yards.
Zwinak led the squad with 989 rushing yards a year ago, just 11 markers shy of his second-straight 1,000-yard season. The senior had a nose for the end zone with 12 rushing touchdowns last season, which is the most for a Penn State running back since Royster (12) in 2008. His 12 rushing TDs are tied for ninth in PSU single-season history. Zwinak ranked ninth in the Big Ten in overall rushing yardage (82.4 ypg), tied for seventh in touchdowns and eighth in rushing yards in conference games (86.5). He found his groove at the end of the season, rushing for 563 yards in the final four contests, gaining at least 115 yards in all four games. 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.
For his career, Zwinak is 18th on Penn State's career rushing list with 1,996 yards and has the opportunity to join the elite list of six Nittany Lions with 3,000 career rushing yards. After posting five 100-yard rushing performances in 2013, Zwinak is now tied with D.J. Dozier for 10th place on Penn State's chart with 11 career 100-yard games.
The Nittany Lions now have eight players on eight different preseason watch lists: Bill Belton (Walker Award - Nation's Top Running Back), Kyle Carter (Mackey Award - Nation's Top Tight End), Christian Hackenberg (Maxwell Award - College Football MVP, O'Brien Award - Nation's Top Quarterback), Mike Hull (Butkus - Nation's Top Linebacker), Jesse James (Mackey Award - Nation's Top Tight End), Jordan Lucas (Bednarik - Defensive Player of the Year, Thorpe - Nation's Top Defensive Back), Donovan Smith (Outland Trophy - Nation's Top Interior Lineman) and Zach Zwinak (Walker Award - Nation's Top Running Back).
James Franklin was named Penn State's 16th head football coach on January 11. A product of Langhorne, Pa., Franklin led Vanderbilt University to unprecedented success the past three years as head coach, including consecutive nine-win seasons and bowl victories the past two years, as well as back-to-back Top 25 finishes, all for the first time in Vanderbilt history. In his 20th year of coaching, Franklin was a two-time All-PSAC quarterback at East Stroudsburg University and set or tied 23 school records.
More than 5,000 new Penn State football season tickets have been sold for the 2014 campaign. There again was no increase in season tickets prices for Penn State football for the upcoming season.
Fans are now able to purchase Penn State football season tickets and make their Nittany Lion Club donation online at GoPSUsports.com/seasontickets, while choosing their own seats by utilizing Virtual Venue. New season tickets also are available by calling 1-800-NITTANY, weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Recent Graduate ticket program gives Penn State graduates who earned an undergraduate degree from 2010-14 at any campus the opportunity to purchase up to two season tickets for $300 per ticket for the seven-game home schedule this fall. The cost includes a $50 donation to the Nittany Lion Club and is a savings of 35 percent from the regular $460 season ticket price ($360 + $100 NLC donation). To date, more than 700 Recent Graduate ticket programs have been sold.
More than 600 Recent Graduate program season tickets have been sold. Interested recent graduates can call 1-800-NITTANY, weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Penn State returns 40 letterwinners and 15 starters (7 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist) for the upcoming season and will play a trio of 2013 Top 10 teams this fall. The Nittany Lions will host Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State (Nov. 29), Ohio State (Oct. 25, 8 p.m.), Northwestern (Sept. 27-Homecoming, 12 p.m.) and Maryland (Nov. 1) during its 2014 Big Ten home schedule. Penn State will host Akron (Sept. 6), UMass (Sept. 20) and Temple (Nov. 15) during its non-conference slate.
The Nittany Lions open the season Aug. 30 vs. UCF in the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland.