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July 18, 2013

Zwinak earns Doak Walker nod

The news for Penn State running back Zach Zwinak continues to get better this month.

Just days after fully participating in the Nittany Lions' Lift for Life event, Zwinak has been named as a candidate to the Doak Walker Award Watch List, presented annually to the nation's top running back.

Zwinak, a fourth-string running back entering the 2012 preseason, emerged as one of the most compelling surprises in the Big Ten last year, racking up 1,000 yards and six touchdowns on the ground on 203 carries. His 113.0 yards per game was fifth in the conference as his six 100-yard games paced the Nittany Lions' running game in the second half of the season.

This spring, Zwinak maintained his role as the team's premiere back, though the contributions of both Akeel Lynch and Bill Belton were oft-talked about by head coach Bill O'Brien and his staff. Of course, on the third play of the Blue-White Game, Zwinak injured his wrist in what O'Brien described as a, "non-life threatening injury," during one of the Coaches' Caravan stops in April.

"He's going to be OK," O'Brien said at the time. "More than likely, he will play against Syracuse, but he's going to have to be a non-contact deal early in training camp. And, he's one of our best players. I don't think anybody would argue with me on that."

Having shown himself to be in even better shape than expected during Lift for Life, having a wrapped wrist but competing in every aspect of the event, Zwinak could exceed O'Brien's initial prognosis of a non-contact training camp.

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