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Penn State Football Preseason Top 10: No. 6 Noah Cain

Noah Cain is looking to stay healthy in 2021...

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for our annual season top 10! Each summer, the staff votes on its top 10 players ahead of the upcoming season. A first place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth nine points, and so on.

How He Got Here:

Noah Cain was one of the best running backs in the country during the 2019 recruiting cycle, ranked as a four-star prospect and top-100 prospect in the nation. An IMG Academy product, Cain garnered nearly 30 scholarship offers but his recruitment ultimately came down to Penn State and Texas. During the Early Signing Period in 2018, Cain ultimately chose the Nittany Lions over the Longhorns, a decision that came down to the wire with Cain almost picking Texas on the morning of his signing before deciding on the Nittany Lions.

As a true freshman in 2019, Cain showed a ton of promise, recording 495-yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns on 94 touches. Heading into 2020, Cain was thrown into the starting running back role earlier than expected with Journey Brown’s career being cut short due to medical reasons. Unfortunately for Cain, it wouldn’t last for long as three carries into his 2021 season, he would injure his foot against Indiana and would not see the field again.

What to Expect in 2021:

IF healthy, Cain seems likely to return to the starting running back role in 2021. That being said, he’ll be sharing the backfield quite a bit as well. Also in the backfield this season, fighting for carries will be Keyvone Lee, who showed quite a bit of promise as a true freshman last season. He, came in as our No.9 Nittany Lion coming into the season. But also, Baylor graduate transfer Jon Lovett, junior running back Devyn Ford, and sophomore running back Coziah Holmes. It’s safe to say the Nittany Lions have one of the most talented backfields in not just the Big Ten but the country.

Even if Cain doesn’t return as the starter but instead is in a backup role similar to his freshman season, the Baton Rouge, Lousiana native will still be quite a big piece in the Nittany Lions offense. He’s a highly adept runner at running between the tackles and through would-be tacklers. He was expected to take quite a step forward in 2020 prior to his injury and with no similar expectations entering this year, it will be interesting to see how the missed season and most of a missed spring cost Cain in his development.