Penn State is tied for the national lead among all colleges and universities with its seven Maxwell Award winners. The Nittany Lions’ four Bednarik Award recipients are the most of any school in the nation.
The Maxwell Award is presented in honor of Robert W. (Tiny) Maxwell, a legendary college player, official and sports columnist. First bestowed in 1937, the Maxwell Award will be presented for the 77th time to the nation’s college football player of the year.
The Bednarik Award was established in 1995 and is presented in honor of linebacking great Chuck Bednarik, a member of both the College Football and NFL Halls of Fame, annually to the nation’s defensive player of the year.
Zwinak delivered the 22nd 1,000-yard rushing season in Penn State history, despite starting only the final four games of last season. He gave the Nittany Lions a 1,000-yard running back for the eighth consecutive year. A 2012 honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection, Zwinak became the 14th different Nittany Lion all-time to crack 1,000 yards in a season. After gaining a total of 96 yards in four non-conference games, he delivered 904 yards in eight Big Ten games for an average of 113.0 yards per game, the fifth-highest total in conference play.
During the 2012 season, Zwinak gained 1,000 yards on 203 carries (4.9) and scored six touchdowns on the ground. He delivered the team’s longest rush of the season, a 50-yard touchdown burst on the first series of the game at No. 18 Nebraska. Zwinak also caught 20 passes for 177 yards and a score, ranking fifth on the team in receptions, and his 1,177 all-purpose yards led the squad. The former Linganore High School standout broke his career-high in rushing yards six times in the final nine games of the season.
Barnes was selected the 2012 Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year, becoming the second Nittany Lion to earn the conference’s freshman honor. Barnes was a consensus first-team Freshman All-American, earning the honor from CBSsports.com, Sporting News, CollegeFootballNews.com, Fox Sports/Scout.com and Phil Steele’s College Football. He also was selected honorable-mention All-Big Ten by the coaches and media and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team by ESPN.com and BTN.com.
Barnes was tied for No. 3 in the conference with three forced fumbles in 2012, tied for No. 5 in the Big Ten in sacks (6.0) and was No. 14 with 10.0 tackles for loss, leading the team in sacks and TFL. The former Northeast High School standout made 26 tackles (14 solo) and had one pass break-up, playing in every game, with eight starts. Barnes played a vital role for a defense that ranked second in the Big Ten and No. 16 nationally in scoring defense at 19.1 ppg, holding six teams to 17 or fewer points.
Penn State has had Maxwell Award winners – seven – tied with Notre Dame for most in the nation. Rich Lucas was the first Nittany Lion to receive the honor, winning in 1959, followed by Glenn Ressler (1964), Mike Reid (1969), John Cappelletti (1973), Chuck Fusina (1978), Kerry Collins (1994) and Larry Johnson (2002).