As we move through our Penn State position spotlights, having looked at special teams after the Blue-White Game, it is time for the running backs. The Nittany Lions return sophomore running back duo Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen. The duo became the first true freshman teammates in Big Ten history to each have 700 or more rushing yards in a season. In addition, the pair shared Penn State’s Most Valuable Offensive Player Award for 2022. It is no doubt that these two are in for a big sophomore season, but who is behind them on the depth chart? Let’s check out the Penn State running backs for 2023.
Penn State Running Backs
The Nittany Lions are going to be without Devyn Ford and Keyvone Lee to back up the star duo of sophomore backs. Lee entered the transfer portal in early January. The former Penn State back started the first two games of the 2022 season before the coaching staff realized Singleton and Allen couldn’t be sidelined. Lee didn’t see as much action moving forward. He finished the 2022 season appearing in five games and rushing for only 95 yards.
Ford is another story. The former back left the team in week five. When it occurred Franklin stated, “He’s decided that he wanted to focus on academics. And we wish him the best. I think you guys know, I praised Devyn Ford for four years and have a lot of respect for him. I wish him nothing but the best.” He has now entered the transfer portal hoping to find a fresh start. That leaves a very scarce Penn State running back depth chart. With only redshirt sophomore Tyler Holzworth and redshirt senior Tank Smith backing up the sophomore duo. That’s okay though. There are three running backs joining the Nittany Lions this Summer.
The Incoming Freshmen
There are two running backs that signed with the 2023 Recruiting Class for Penn State. London Mongomery and Cameron Wallace both signed their NLIs back in the Winter, but neither prospect enrolled early. It wasn’t really necessary to push for either to enroll early with Singleton and Allen on the roster, however, it will be nice to get young depth this Summer.
Let’s start with the four-star Pennsylvania native. Montgomery hails from Scranton Prep in Scranton, PA. According to the 247Sports Composite ranking, he is the eighth-ranked player in Pennsylvania and the 28th-ranked running back in the 2023 class. This second ranking, and even the first, could be because he spent the majority of his senior year recovering from an ACL tear. That didn’t stop Penn State running back coach Ja’Juan Seider from recruiting him. In addition, that didn’t stop the other 19 schools from recruiting him either. Including Michigan, Iowa, Michigan State, and Virginia Tech. Penn State is the perfect landing spot for Montgomery. There is no pressure to come in and perform right away. If he is healthy enough, put him in a few games to get the hang of things. If not, no big deal. There is no need for him to burn a red shirt this season. Just a little glimpse into his potential, as a junior he rushed for 2, 356 yards and 36 touchdowns. Nearly tripling his touchdowns from his sophomore season.
Next up is Wallace. The three-star product from Mount Vernon, Georgia is fast. He also runs track and was a Georgia state qualifier in the 100-meter dash. Wallace chose Penn State over Georgia Tech, Indiana, and West Virginia to name a few. As a senior in 2022, he rushed for 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns. Doubling his touchdown count from his junior season. Not only did he play running back, but Wallace played every side of the ball. On defense, he racked up 92 tackles, including 10 for loss, and two interceptions. He also returned kicks on special teams, finding the end zone there once. Wallace is a true athlete coming to the Penn State running back room and will add much-needed depth at the position.
The Pennsylvania back is coming home. Trey Potts is transferring back to Pennsylvania from Minnesota. He hails from Williamsport, PA which is only 66.2 miles from State College. That is a little over an hour from Penn State to his hometown. He committed and signed to play for Minnesota back in 2018 and enrolled at Minnesota in January 2019. With graduation looming this Spring, Potts decided to enter the transfer portal in March. After committing to play for the Nittany Lions, Potts spoke with 247Sports. Something that really stood when speaking about the Penn State coaching staff out was, “Their communication and them being transparent about the opportunity there,” he said. “It’s a chance to not only compete and play, but obviously to be close to home and live out a dream I’ve had since I was a little kid.”
It is no surprise that Penn State has two very good starting running backs, but something that is lacking on the depth chart is veteran experience at the position. Potts brings that. Over four years at Minnesota, majorly behind Mohamed Ibrahim, he rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns. This is a player that the Nittany Lions need to help shape and mold the young backs. They are doing just fine without it, but it is invaluable to have a veteran with experience on the roster.
Photo courtesy: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports