Instant Analysis: Zach Zwinak

It all depends on how you do recruiting rankings, but with the addition of Frederick, Md., native Zach Zwinak to the mix for Penn State, I now believe the Nittany Lions have the best overall class in the country. For more thoughts on Zwinak particularly, read on.

The high school I played football for in Western Maryland had a history of outstanding fullbacks throughout the years and I had the pleasure of playing with one of them in Josh Page who is still one of the state's leading all-time rushers. With that said, when I watch Linganore High School fullback Zach Zwinak, he is the best running fullback I've ever set my eyes on.

The first thing that really blows me away about Zwinak is how great of a burst he has for a 6-foot-2, 230-pound back. He hits the hole like a freight train and takes off down the field, pulling away from defenders for long runs consistently. It's not just Zwinak's burst that impresses me, but it is also his ability to make defenders miss in the open field. He's not the type of back that's going to juke you out of your shoes, but he makes very subtle head and shoulder fakes while running at full speed that help him race right by defenders. This is a tremendous athlete that Penn State is getting at the fullback position and that's why the recruiting experts have him ranked No. 1 in the country at his position.

In terms of power, Zwinak runs like a bulldozer with an attitude problem. I know, it's a lot of hyperbole, but he really does. The scary thing he that he's able to run over people so easily, yet I think he really needs to work on getting his pad level down in rushing lanes. He has a very powerful lower body and explodes into would-be tacklers while showing that he has great balance as he bounces off, runs through or just trucks defenders.

The difference between very good running fullbacks and great ones is that the best can also block well and Zwinak excels in that department too. He is quick through the hole, gets on a defender and drives him with that powerful lower body to create rushing lanes. When you have a player that is already a great running back himself and understands what the man behind him wants to do, that's a huge plus and Zwinak brings that ability.

I think Zwinak has the ability to be a star in the Big Ten with his versatility. Penn State fans will remember playing Wisconsin in 2004 when the Badgers were without their starting tailback and had to plug in 270-pound fullback Matt Bernstein to carry the ball all game. Bernstein racked up a career-high 123 yards in a 16-3 victory over the Lions, showing that a big, physical runner can be productive in the Big Ten, even against great defenses. Bernstein was a great blocker, but he wasn't half of the athlete that Zwinak is or can be. With that type of option to go along with the other weapons Penn State is recruiting, opposing defenses are going to have one heck of a time adjusting to the Nittany Lion offense in the future.

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