Penn State running back Akeel Lynch announced on Wednesday that he has decided to transfer after earning his degree from the university in the spring, and play his fifth year of eligibility at another unnamed school.
“It’s been a tough decision for my family and I,” he wrote on Twitter. “But I have decided that after I graduate this spring from Penn State, I will play my fifth year of eligibility elsewhere. Because at the end of the day, football doesn’t last forever and this Penn State degree will mean the world to me.
“This has been tough on me because Penn State has provided me a home for the past four years, even when times were tough. During those times, I couldn’t be any more honored to wear the blue and white because being here made me realize that the legacy at Penn State couldn’t be destroyed by one man.”
This has been tough on me because Penn State has provided me a home for the past four years, even when times were tough. During those times, I couldn’t be any more honored to wear the blue and white because being here made me realize that the legacy at Penn State couldn’t be destroyed by one man.
Lynch was slated to take over as the team’s premier back upon the graduation of Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton, and had 314 yards and three touchdowns in 2014. He took a loaded crop of freshmen and true freshmen under his wing in summer and fall camp, even earning the nickname “Stepfather” from teammates.
Yet Lynch saw his playing time diminish with the emergence of true freshman Saquon Barkley, who burst onto the Penn State scene and finished the season with 1,076 rushing yards as Lynch became the second-string running back and had 55 carries on the season for 282 yards and two touchdowns. He never publicly complained about this, and instead was often seen on the field before games dancing with teammates.
Lynch finished his career at Penn State with 1,318 yards and seven touchdowns.
“I want to thank Joe Paterno for making my dream come true by offering me a scholarship,” Lynch, a Toronto native also nicknamed “The Big Maple,” wrote. “Thank you to coach (Bill) O’Brien, coach (James) Franklin and their staffs for leading Penn State football and giving me opportunities to play.”
Lynch also thanked the team’s training staff and academic support staff, then turned focus to his teammates.
“I want to thank my teammates for being my family away from home,” he wrote. “You guys will always be my brothers for life. Also, I want to thank John Cappelletti for allowing me to wear No. 22 for my four years here, and to the fans for their loyalty. Your support has been uplifting and very encouraging! Regardless of everything, Penn State will always be considered home.”
Penn State will undoubtedly utilize Barkley as next season’s feature back. Top recruit and commit Miles Sanders, upon his official signing next month, is expected to be the “two” in the team’s “1-2 punch” at running back. The position remains deep with young players Mark Allen, Nick Scott, Andre Robinson and Johnathan Thomas.
The past week has been full of news for the football program, with the replacement of Bob Shoop at defensive coordinator by Brent Pry, Wednesday’s hiring of Matt Limegrover to replace Herb Hand as offensive line coach and the transfers of Geno Lewis, Gary Wooten Jr., Daquan Worley and Troy Reeder.