2022 Penn State Running Backs Preview
The Penn State Nittany Lions have had a deep running back group for many years under running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider. However, last season, the Nittany Lions were ranked 118th in rushing offense. That was out of 130 teams and the only Big Ten school to come in behind Penn State was Purdue at 127. That isn’t all on the running backs. The offensive line was having struggles of its own a season ago and it shows. The Nittany Lions were ranked 106th in tackles for loss allowed. Both look to be much improved in 2022 and it all starts with Spring practice. Let’s take a look at the 2022 Penn State running backs.
Returners Looking to Make an Impact
With former starter Noah Cain transferring to LSU and John Lovett exhausting eligibility there are three notable returning running backs for the 2022 season. The first is Keyvone Lee. Lee led the team in rushing yards last season with 530 on 108 attempts. He only logged two rushing touchdowns. Lee was praised by Seider multiple times during winter workouts. He looks to be the starter heading into Spring practice and likely throughout the Summer. The third-year running back needs to set himself apart in the Spring so there can be a clear number one back heading into the Fall. Penn State can’t do what it did last season using the running back by committee approach. Lee couldn’t get into a rhythm. If he can set himself apart from the rest this Spring look for a much better rushing attack this Fall.
Lee isn’t the only returner looking to make an impact in Spring practice. Devyn Ford and Caziah Holmes are also vying for that starting position. Ford is entering his fourth year in blue and white. He played in eight games in 2021 but did not score a touchdown. Further, he only tallied 14 rushing attempts for 61 yards. It is unlikely that Ford will beat out Lee for the starting role. Holmes is another name to watch amongst the returners. He was a second-year player in 2021 playing in only three games with just five rushing attempts for 27 yards. He is another one of those guys with talent that will likely be working for positioning as the third man on the depth chart. It will be hard to overcome Lee and early enrollee Nick Singleton.
Singleton is the number one running back in the 2022 class and will likely be a contender throughout Spring practice for the number two running back position with a push for the starting role. The Gatorade Player of the Year rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2021 averaging 12.4 yards per carry. Something that will likely be worked on throughout Spring practice is Singleton’s pass-catching. This is one facet of his game that is relatively unknown as he wasn’t utilized in that way during high school. Penn State has utilized its running backs in the passing game in the past, so this will be something to keep an eye on as we get closer to the Blue-White Game in April.
Kaytron Allen is the other early enrollee running back that is looking to improve his positioning in the pecking order this Spring. The four-star prospect from IMG Academy has his own strengths to work with. Most notably his pass-catching ability as well as good vision and strength through contact. These two will be a good one-two punch in the years to come if both can stay healthy and develop the way Penn State envisions.
Penn State Running Backs Preview Takeaways
The Penn State Nittany Lions need a big step up from the running backs in 2022. This can all start with defining a lead back. Lee makes the strongest case for lead running back coming out of the 2021 season and Winter workouts. However, early enrollee Singleton will look to make an impact this Spring for a shot at the lead role in the Fall. Whoever the starter is there needs to be one. No Penn State running back was able to get into a rhythm in 2021. While the offensive line didn’t help matters, the running backs weren’t given the opportunities to get going in any given game. It is good to have depth at the running back position, but not at the detriment to the rushing attack. Look for Lee and Singleton to battle it out this Spring making for an exciting Blue-White Game in April.