Akeel Lynch Transfers To Nevada
Nevada head coach Brian Polian made quite the splash on National Signing Day after landing Akeel Lynch, who plans to transfer from Penn State after graduating in the spring. Affectionately nicknamed “Big Maple” due to his Canadian nationality, Lynch made the most of his limited opportunities in Happy Valley, earning the respect of both his coaches and teammates for his patience and resiliency.
Rumors began to swirl about a month ago that Lynch would be headed to the University of British Columbia — the same school former blue-chip recruit Michael O’Connor transferred to last year. Those rumors proved to be false.
Lynch finishes his Penn State career with 1,318 yards and seven total touchdowns, and is the last player to wear Heisman winner John Cappelletti’s retired No. 22. The legendary running back granted Lynch permission to wear the number after Penn State elected to retire it in 2013 when Lynch was a redshirt freshman, meaning he’d be “grandfathered in.” Lynch thanked Cappelletti in a statement posted on Twitter after his initial transfer announcement.
At Nevada, Lynch will battle junior James Butler for the starting job — one he won’t easily snatch away from the talented runner. Butler rushed for 1,345 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015 playing in the runner-friendly pistol offense — made famous by former Wolfpack head coach Chris Ault.
Lynch’s team-first attitude and willingness to accept a leadership role are both characteristics that will be dearly missed in the Penn State locker room. Lynch waited behind incumbent starters Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak for two years after redshirting as a true freshman in 2012 despite consistently outplaying the elder duo. His patience was rewarded in 2015 after finally earning a starting job, but the emergence of freshman phenom Saquon Barkley significantly diminished his number of touches as the season progressed. The signing of five-star running back Miles Sanders only affirmed the notion that Lynch wouldn’t be seeing much of the field in his final season, and with graduate transfer status, he made the wise decision to join the Wolfpack with the opportunity to make an immediate impact.
Akeel, thank you for all you’ve contributed to Penn State, and best of luck in 2016.