Friday August 10, 2012 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Akeel Lynch adorns the Penn State sweater while on the team’s sideline. (Photo by StateCollege.com)
Akeel Lynch is staying put at Penn State, even as the program enters the first year of devastating NCAA sanctions.
Amidst the exit of eight players in the past two weeks and rumors of his own transfer to Iowa, the incoming freshman decided to remain with the Nittany Lions football program, announcing that decision via Twitter on Friday (Aug. 3) night.
The record-breaking St. Francis tailback tweeted, “I will be wearing #22 in Blue&White jersey come Sept. 1st.”He also reiterated his commitment to a Penn State program entering a four-year conference championship and bowl ban with the hashtag, #WeStillAre #PennState and also #Sorryforthewait after he was originally slated to make his announcement the weekend prior.
The Penn State football program has been influx ever since the announcement of the sanctions on July 23, which were a direct result of the reported cover up by college officials of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse. Nittany Lions players have been given the option to transfer this season or before the 2013 season by the NCAA without having to sit out a year.
Also as part of the sanctions from the NCAA is the loss of 10 scholarship players each of the next four years and a five-year probation. Both of which will continue to make rebuilding the program a difficult endeavor.
Although he had said he was living out a childhood dream by attending Penn State and was eager to play under new coach and former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, Lynch’s decision came as somewhat of a surprise.
Iowa, which had recruited Lynch during his senior season, was reportedly after him again once Penn State players were allowed to speak with other programs and their coaches. Victorybellrings.com went as far as to report one source indicated to the website that Lynch was “all but gone” from Penn State.
Among those who have left is Penn State’s top running back, junior Silas Redd, who transferred to USC. If Lynch had left it would have been a big blow to Penn State and its potential running game. Now, as one of only three scholarship tailbacks left at Penn State, Lynch could be in line for playing time as a just a freshman. Red-shirt junior Curtis Dukes is the oldest of the running back group and sophomore Bill Belton is a converted wide receiver who may see the bulk of the carries.
Iowa has similar depth issues at running back after the team recently dismissed sophomore De’Andre Johnson, who would have been the most experienced of the team’s backs. Lynch may have been in line for immediate playing time there, as well. Like Iowa, Oklahoma and Mississippi had been recruiting Lynch before his decision to play at Penn State.
As a senior, Lynch ran for a Monsignor Martin single-season record 2,131 yards and 25 touchdowns while leading the Red Raiders to a 2011 title among Western New York Catholic schools. He also ran the 100-yard dash in 10.6 seconds. After the football season, he was named the New York State Gatorade Player of the Year.
Lynch originally verbally committed to Boston College in the summer of 2011 before flipping to Penn State following the football season. Lynch reported for the first day of Penn State football practices on Monday (Aug. 6) in preparation for the Sept. 1 season opener against Ohio.