TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Speedy back Belton becomes Penn State mainstay on offense

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State running back Bill Belton turns the corner as Penn State defenders Charles Idemudia (30) and Mike Wiand (50) during the Blue-White Game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State running back Bill Belton turns the corner as Penn State  defenders Charles Idemudia (30) and Mike Wiand (50) during the Blue-White Game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media - Penn State running back Bill Belton walks onto the Beaver Stadium field Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Trib Total Media</em></div>Penn State running back Bill Belton walks onto the Beaver Stadium field Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, in University Park.

College Football Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 10:08 p.m.
 

Of the dominoes that fell amidst the butterfly effect of Pitt's decision to fire Dave Wannstedt after the 2010 season, Bill Belton's fate ranks far down the publicized list of “what ifs.”

Still, what if Belton had remained committed to Pitt?

Then a four-star athlete from New Jersey, Belton backed out of a verbal commitment to the Panthers, in part, because he had wanted to play for Wannstedt.

He ultimately chose to play for Joe Paterno at Penn State.

Little could anyone have known when Belton made his initial commitment to Pitt that both schools would go through five head coaches — counting interim — over the ensuing four years.

Secure in his decision despite the relative turmoil, Belton shrugs.

“I enjoyed the ride,” he said. “At the end of the day, you're here to get your degree and to play meaningful football.”

Belton's college career technically began as a receiver, although he was mostly used in 2011 as a wildcat quarterback. Bill O'Brien quickly moved Belton to running back when he was hired as coach in 2012. After an injury-marred sophomore season, the 5-foot-10, 204-pound Belton amassed 1,036 all-purpose yards last season.

Now a senior and team leader, Belton figures to be a versatile cog in the offense.

Belton has 1,131 career rushing yards, and his 25 receptions are more than any non-tight end on the roster. He is one of six PSU players with bowl-game experience.

“He's played in a lot of games, a lot of big games,” offensive coordinator John Donovan said. “He's got a lot of ability, and he's a senior. That's a pretty good combination right there. ... We are expecting big things.”

Belton repeatedly tweets articles that rank, say, the Big Ten's top running backs or best players. When his name isn't included on top-10 lists, he often accompanies the link with a comment such as, “Underrated & overlooked” or “Got a HUGE chip on my shoulder.”

“That's why I go and work out extra and why I go and do the extra things I do,” he said. “That's all I use it as.”

Though the two have a good relationship, Belton bristles at the notion that fellow senior Zach Zwinak is the power back and he is merely the speedster.

The two form arguably the Big Ten's top rushing tandem. They totaled 1,782 rushing yards last season.

But while he appreciates having a running mate the quality of Zwinak, don't make the mistake of assuming Belton is content playing the stereotypical “scat back” role to Zwinak's “bruiser.”

“I'm a guy that can play all three downs,” Belton said. “I can be a receiver out of the backfield and do everything that a good back can do.”

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Former SA star Wojciechowski still shooting on the basketball floor
  2. Senior designs Armstrong cross country course
  3. Steelers LB Timmons has grown into leadership role on defense
  4. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  5. Charges held against 3 in McKeesport business robbery
  6. Steelers notebook: Backup QB Gradkowski remains out with shoulder issue
  7. Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring
  8. ‘Real’ people, solutions at heart of GOP ad blitz in Pa.
  9. Ownerless emu finds ‘buddy’ at new Greensburg home
  10. Medical pot has advocate in Pennsylvania House
  11. Gunbattle kills 21 at Afghan wedding party