Penn State’s backfield among the deepest group in the country

Keyvone Lee

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – NOVEMBER 28: Keyvone Lee #24 of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks for yards during a first half run against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 28, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa (WTAJ) — In 2020 injuries plagued Penn State’s backfield. And it was bad.

Journey Brown, the presumed starter and likely day two NFL draft pick, was forced to retire from football with a heart condition. Noah Cain went down on the first drive against Indiana, the season opener. Devyn Ford took over as the Nittany Lions’ starter, also went down late, missing the final three games.

But injuries berth opportunity for young players.

At the end of the season, true freshman Keyvone Lee was the team’s leading back. His 134 yards against Michigan, his breakout game, paved way for him to start the final three games.

If Cain, Ford and Lee were Penn State’s top three running back options, the Nittany Lions would be in great shape. But the stable is fuller.

Caziah Holmes played in all nine games a year ago, rushing for more than 200 yards, and transfer back John Lovett left Baylor after rushing for more than 1,800 yards. All together, Penn State’s backs have nearly 3,500 career yards. Now that’s some depth.

“The days of the feature backs in college football are gone,” said head coach James Franklin Wednesday. “We want to play three backs. I think it’s hard to play four. “You better have a fourth ready, because one of those three will get dinged up and then it will just go to a three-man rotation with that new guy in there.”

Franklin touched on the backs a bit more, but only to say that he felt Penn State had one of the deepest backfields in the country, which they do. Franklin would not tip his cap to what the rotation could look like, only to say that scrimmages would help direct those decisions.

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