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Penn State Stocks Up On Running Back Talent With Ford, Cain

Penn State had an extremely successful early signing period in year two of the new system, landing a pair of highly touted running back prospects in Devyn Ford and Noah Cain.

Ford committed to the Nittany Lions on May 18 — less than a month after officially visiting campus for the Blue-White game. Cain picked Penn State over fellow finalists Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Auburn Wednesday morning. The Nittany Lions hadn’t signed a two-back class since Saquon Barkley and Andre Robinson put pen to paper in 2015.

Cain transferred from Denton Guyer High School in Texas to IMG Academy prior to his junior season and quickly became one of the nation’s most sought after recruits. He shared the backfield with five-star Alabama signee Trey Sanders in Bradenton, Florida, which helped take some of the load off of him from a reps standpoint.

“Both of them, if you combine their stats, it’s ridiculous,” Franklin said of his newest running backs. “You look at Noah, what he’s been able to do, obviously at IMG and his high school before that, it’s impressive.

“With Devyn, he had over a hundred touchdowns in high school, so we’re fortunate to get two really good backs coming in here that are also highly competitive guys and both very mature.”

The addition of running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider last offseason has already paid major dividends for the Nittany Lions. Seider played an essential role in both Ford and Cain’s recruitment, as well as four-star Florida receiver John Dunmore, who spurned a late push from Miami and stuck with Penn State.

Franklin has made a habit of signing elite running back prospects at Penn State.

Franklin said Cain silently committed to the Nittany Lions “a few weeks ago,” but Cain told 247Sports he woke up leaning toward Texas. After a midnight conversation with Franklin and several more Wednesday morning, Cain decided to strike out on his own and head north to Penn State.

“This is a big decision guys are making, and I think when you wait till the end, you start getting pulled in a thousand different directions, so we get that,” Franklin said. “When he announced — even after he announced, I was
like, ‘Get the paperwork in, get the paperwork in!'”

If Miles Sanders declares for the 2019 NFL draft following the Citrus Bowl, Penn State will still be stocked with talent at running back for years to come. Ford and Cain are both top 10 prospects at their position this cycle, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

Should Sanders return to school for his senior season, Penn State would have the luxury of potentially redshirting Ford and/or Cain, while both would certainly be available to play in up to four games under the new NCAA rule. Former five-star Ricky Slade will be a sophomore next fall after rushing for six touchdowns during his first regular season.

Cain plans to enroll early and participate in spring practice with the Nittany Lions, which will go a long way toward allowing him to see the field in 2019. There’s no question Penn State is thrilled with the future of its running back room now that Cain and Ford are officially on board.

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

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