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2022 Spring Position Preview: Running Backs

Penn State has struggled at running back the past two seasons. Will more experience and some new faces help turn the corner?

Ball State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Projected Starter(s)

Keyvone Lee

Lee is by far the most experienced returning back, and has worked his way up in a crowded, albeit lackluster, backfield in each of the last two seasons. Lee is surprisingly nimble for a big-bodied back at 240 lbs., but does his best work when running north-south. He has struggled at times by trying to do too much, seemingly searching for a big play with each touch.

Nick Singleton

This isn’t a question of “if” the true freshman plays, but “when.” Singleton’s buzz has only grown since stepping on campus as an early enrollee. And there was already quite a bit from the get-go. The Reading, Pa., native came in with a trove of honors - the top-rated running back in the nation, the top-rated player out of Pennsylvania, Gatorade National Player of the Year, Maxwell Offensive Player of the Year...well, you get the point. If you’re looking for a reason to be excited about the 2022 season, it won’t be too long until Singleton is making jaw-dropping plays to the roar of a packed Beaver Stadium.

In the Mix

Caziah Holmes

Holmes is the wildcard of the bunch. He saw regular time as a true freshman during a stretch when the position group was decimated by injuries. He did well, but didn’t state his case for a starting role. Holmes took a redshirt season in 2021, so enters this season a freshman in terms of eligibility (reminder that the 2020 season didn’t count towards eligibility). The Florida native entered the program with loads of hype about his playmaking ability, and is looking ahead to a make-or-break season where he could become a valuable part of the offense.

Devyn Ford

Ford exploded on the scene with an 81-yard touchdown strike in his first game as a true freshman. However, he has struggled to become a regular part of the offense since. Ford finished with 274 yards and three scores on the ground in 2020, but had just 14 carries for 61 yards last season. He’ll need a big offseason to prove he can carry more of the load this season.


Kaytron Allen

Could Penn State see two true freshman as a regular part of the running back rotation on ‘22? Don’t count it out. Allen enters the program with a Big Ten body at 5-11, 220 lbs. He has garnered praise for many things that typically take time for a young running back to learn - pass protection, field vision, route-running, and keeping his legs churning to gain the tough yardage. Allen was ranked as the nation’s 12th-best running back and the 153rd best overall player in his class.

Tank Smith

Tank is my predicted Blue-White Game MVP. But will we see him in the fall? A low and powerful runner, Smith could be a great fit for in short yardage situations. It would be nice to see him get in the end zone for all of his efforts.