In the most impressive recruiting victory for Penn State during the 2019 cycle, the Nittany Lions went down to IMG Academy and took four-star Texas-native Noah Cain away from the Texas Longhorns. Cain joins fellow four-star running back Devyn Ford in giving Penn State perhaps the best running back class in the nation.
Coming in at 5-foot-10, 208 pounds, Cain already has Division-I size, and should add a bit more to that being that he’s already enrolled. I’m not sure he has the frame to hold all that much more weight, but he’ll probably end up in the 220-pound area.
There’s a wide range of opinion on Cain — Rivals has him as the No. 43 player in the country, while 247Sports puts him at No. 265. To be honest, I can kind of understand where both sides are coming from. On one hand, Cain has the prototypical size and build, and really checks off a lot of boxes: agility, power, vision, balance, etc. But that being said, he lacks that extra gear. He actually ran a solid 4.65 forty back in February, but he just doesn’t show that home run ability on film.
Overall, I think his 247 Composite ranking at No. 98 actually makes the most sense, because while Cain might not have first round draft pick upside, he’s a very polished running back. He has one of the higher floors in the class just simply because outside of his speed, he doesn’t have too many other question marks.
I think one of the true freshman running backs will definitely play, while the other will be in that “four-games-yellow-light” territory. While I do like Ford more longterm, I give the edge to Cain for next season. He’s more ready than Ford is, and being that Cain will take place in spring practice while Ford won’t, I think Cain holds the inside track for the green light.