Christian Hackenberg, Akeel Lynch Named To Additional Preseason Watch Lists
Every day we get closer to the Penn State football season, there seems to be another Penn State player being named to preseason award watch lists. Earlier in the month, players like DaeSean Hamilton, Anthony Zettel, Jordan Lucas, Angelo Mangiro, and Kyle Carter were named to preseason award watch lists for their respective positions.
Christian Hackenberg and Akeel Lynch — who were nominated to the Maxwell Award and Doak Walker Award watch lists, respectively, earlier this month — are both garnering even more national attention. Hackenberg was named Davey O’Brien Award watch list, which goes to the top quarterback in college football, while Akeel Lynch was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list, presented to the top running back in college football.
Hackenberg, who was already named to the Maxwell Award watch list earlier in July, is looking to have a comeback year after a disappointing 2014 campaign. After a season with 12 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a sub-60 percent completion percentage, he wants to put an end to criticism.
The Nittany Lions star will have plenty of weapons at his disposal this coming season, as a number of his offensive counterparts have been nationally recognized. Hackenberg seems to be the favorite to win the award, along with some of the big names from Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan State. Although Hackenberg has already been named to two award watch lists, expect more news to come in the later weeks regarding even more preseason honors for the Penn State gunslinger.
Akeel Lynch joins the party with his first preseason watch list honor after waiting his turn, finally becoming the bellcow back for Penn State. Lynch was bound to third-string duty during the past two seasons behind seniors Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak, but now receives his opportunity after the two departed seniors graduated. Lynch has been a fan favorite ever since he stepped foot in Happy Valley, with excitement buzzing about his potential. The sky is the limit for Lynch, who looks to make the most out of his new opportunity atop the depth chart.
The junior running back saw his carries and rushing totals double his freshman year totals last season, finishing with 149 carries for 678 yards, while finding the endzone four times with and average of 4.7 yards per carry. Lynch will look to increase all of those totals this year as the clear No. 1 at the running back. If the line can stay completely healthy, Lynch should have a promising year. If Lynch is awarded the Doak Walker Award, he would become be the second Penn State running back to win the award, and would join Penn State legend Larry Johnson.
Both players are fully capable of winning their respective awards as the offense moves into its second year in James Franklin’s system. This 2015-16 Penn State football team has the potential to accomplish great things in the coming year, and we should expect more Penn State names to be announced with the Walter Camp Award watch list being announced July 17.