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Is Rashaad Penny a Fit for the Bolts?

Head Coach Anthony Lynn said earlier on Wednesday that wants to see even more carries from Melvin Gordon in 2018. 

However, he's also a strong proponent of having a healthy stable of running backs to share the load.

To that end, there are several intriguing running back prospects in this year's draft, including quite a few that seem like perfect fits for the Bolts.

That includes the NCAA's all-time leading rusher in San Diego State's Rashaad Penny.  In fact, he's a popular name among pundits for players the Chargers should target in the middle rounds of the draft. After all, he's a do-it-all rusher who can give Gordon a breather without missing a beat while also bringing a little something different to the table.

A compactly built specimen at 5-11, 220-pounds, Penny finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 2017.  He posted a season for the ages, leading the nation with 2,248 rushing yards while scoring 23 touchdowns on 289 carries.  The first-team All-American and All-Mountain West selection also caught 19 passes out of the backfield for an additional 135 yards and two TDs. 

Penny would also provide the Bolts a boost on special teams.

He averaged 30.6 yards per return (fifth best in the nation) while taking three all the way to the house. Equally impressive, while some big name prospects shy away from roles on special teams, Penny said it's one thing he enjoys the most.

"I think the best way to score a touchdown would be as a returner," he said, much to the surprise of the media.  "Most people view you as a running back, just running powers and all that. When they see you have a set of skills in returning, I think that can go a long way because most teams need help in the special teams category. So when you get your chance on any return, or any touchdown, I think every coach would be happy…. I think that's the most important part of the game. If offense and defense isn't going so well, then you can rely on special teams. I don't think people know how important and how big of a (point) special teams makes in a game.  So I think that's the most important part."

While no one can argue with Penny's production, detractors believe he doesn't have the same straight-line speed that most running backs possess.  That's why the Aztec is looking forward to proving them wrong in the 40-yard dash above all else.

"I'm definitely excited to run the 40. A lot of people say I don't look fast running on film. It's a thing that I want to prove to a lot of people that I can do. I know I'm capable of being fast."

Confidence is also a must for any running back, and Penny certainly has it in droves.

"Speed, power, vision. I can keep my balance. I can catch the ball — which a lot of people don't think I can — so I'm just excited about (working out) because it speaks for itself."

So, what does Penny want teams to know about him when his Combine experience comes to an end?

"That I left with a smile on my face because I know that I'm a competitor and I'm tough. I think that's the one thing they always bring up in meetings.  They always ask if you're tough. And that's the one thing I want to leave here knowing that I am."

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