Penn State was hopeful that running back Noah Cain – who effectively missed all of last season with injury -would be able to participate for at least a portion of spring practice and according to coach James Franklin that hope has turned reality.
“Noah has been able to go,” Franklin said following practice on Wednesday. “Not full go, not in live settings, but he is getting reps, which I think has been good. In my mind, I think he’s probably a little bit further ahead than I anticipated him being, so the reps have been good that he’s been able to get.”
Cain was injured in the first quarter against Indiana in Penn State’s opening game of the 2020 season. The loss was the second for a Nittany Lion running back room that had gone from one of the deepest in the nation to one of the most depleted. The injury to Cain followed the medical retirement of returning starter Journey Brown prior to the season.
In turn Penn State leaned on the trio of Devyn Ford, Keyvone Lee and Caziah Holmes, all of whom played well for the Nittany Lions, although Lee proved to be perhaps the most consistent with 89 carries for 438 yards and four touchdowns.
As a freshman Cain looked equally the part putting up similar numbers (84 carries, 443 yards and eight touchdowns) in a running back by committee role. Cain also missed some amount of time his first season with injury as well.
“Noah’s been doing Noah things,” Ford said on a Wednesday conference call with reporters. “He’s been working every single day. He’s showing good things on the field just like he was before.”
It remains to be seen who exactly gets the brunt of the carries for the Nittany Lions in 2021, a healthy Cain would certainty boost the room’s depth, but a trio of competent returnee will put Penn State in a similar spot as it was in 2020 with plenty of options to work with.