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After a Trying Season, Noah Cain Enters the Transfer Portal

The running back, who said he faced "a lot of challenges" last year, leaves Penn State after three seasons.

Penn State running back Noah Cain has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, two weeks after getting five carries vs. Arkansas in the Outback Bowl.

Rivals.com was the first to report Cain's name appearing in the portal. Cain on Thursday announced his decision in a social media post.

Soon after, Cain announced his destination. The Baton Rouge, La., native will play for Brian Kelly at LSU. Cain, who is scheduled to graduate from Penn State in May, will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Cain, who arrived at Penn State with such fanfare in 2019, had a trying two seasons with the Lions in 2020-21. He played just one series in 2020, sustaining a season-ending injury in the opener against Indiana, but returned hopeful for good health and a bounceback campaign in 2021.

That never materialized, however, as Cain started the first six games but never rushed more than 20 times. He eventually ceded the starting role to Keyvone Lee, getting a total of 13 carries in the last four games.

Cain finished the season with 350 yards rushing on 106 carries.

"Of course, it wasn't the year I wanted to have or planned on having," Cain said before the Outback Bowl, "but I'm just looking forward to having a full offseason, being healthy and going into it with my head down and getting back to the player I know that I am."

Cain's departure comes as Penn State welcomes two nationally ranked running backs into its 2022 freshman class. Nicholas Singleton, the nation's top-ranked back, and Kaytron Allen enrolled early and could press for playing time next season.

Lee, Devyn Ford and Caziah Holmes also have eligibility among Penn State running backs.

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Cain was a unique recruit to Penn State, a Louisiana native who moved to Texas as a kid and played at Florida's IMG Academy. He nearly committed to Texas in December 2018 but had a change of heart and chose Penn State.

Cain left Orlando, with three jackets, after playing in the 2019 Under Armour All-America Game ready for his first winter in State College. Cain arrived with a specific plan.

"Taking over college football is the biggest thing," Cain said at the all-star game. "We’re trying to go up there and bring a different type of swag to the team, change the culture, install that winning vibe."

Cain brought that swag as a freshman in 2019, when Penn State's running backs became known as the "LawnBoyz." Cain, Journey Brown and Ford generated attention for their complementary skills and passion for the game.

Cain was particularly impressive during the middle of the season, when he produced back-to-back 100-yard games against Purdue and Iowa. An injury slowed Cain later in the season, but the freshman returned to rush for 92 yards and two touchdowns in Penn State's Cotton Bowl win over Memphis.

But this past season was a struggle. Cain, who admitted that he wasn't completely healthy, averaged eight carries and 27 yards per game. He did not get more than seven carries in any of the last three games.

"There definitely have been a lot of challenges," Cain said, "some things I can't control. So I've just been trying to push myself to be the best that I can be. I've been fighting my tail off to get back to feeling like myself. It's not easy at all, but that's just part of the game."

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