Penn State running back Noah Cain, whose spring-practice participation was judiciously limited, appears to be gearing for a full return to preseason training camp.
First, Penn State released a short clip of summer training, which is held under the guidance of strength coach Dwight Galt. Cain appears at the 12-second mark, pushing himself in a hill climb.
The next glimpse comes from Dallas, Texas, training facility 3Hunnid Fitness, which released a brief clip of Cain doing a workout. 3Hunnid Fitness is run by Josh Hicks, a former Purdue running back who founded the facility to "train the next generation of running backs and tailbacks in Dallas," according to the site.
Note how well Cain is moving laterally and how quickly he moves his feet. This is a very promising few seconds for Penn State.
And in mid-July, just a few weeks before Penn State begins training camp, Hicks released this. Cain looks dynamic and polished.
Cain is among the most interesting players to watch in Penn State's offense this season. He intended to follow a breakout freshman campaign, during which he set the program's freshman scoring record with eight touchdowns, by becoming a national name in 2020. Then he lost the season to injury on the opening drive of the opening game against Indiana.
Penn State coach James Franklin said during spring drills that Cain was "further ahead than we anticipated" and expected the back to make a full recovery. Cain (5-10, 226 pounds) appears to be well on his way.
"If you know Noah, he's attacking everything full steam ahead," Penn State running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider said during spring drills. "And it's no different now, even with his rehab, coming back off his injury. He's doing the same thing. He busts his tail in there with [the training staff], he's diligent in the playbook and in every meeting."
Penn State has a unique situation at running back, with four backs who have started in college. The most experienced is John Lovett, a transfer player who started 20 games in four years at Baylor.
Cain also rejoins a rotation that includes Devyn Ford, Keyvone Lee and Caziah Holmes, all of whom gained significant experience last year. Seider already has sent a critical message to his running backs.
"This thing is wide open," Seider said. "Are we going to take a backseat once Noah comes back, or are we going to push Noah for the job? That's the mentality."
A healthy Cain has the potential to be a Big Ten difference-maker, though the first component is important. Cain has yet to play a full season at Penn State, missing three games late in his freshman year and carrying the ball just three times as a sophomore.
"He's the guy that I definitely think we can win the Big Ten with but also he's a guy we need for a whole season," Seider said.