Penn State joined a large pack of college football programs Tuesday in the pursuit of prized prospect Noah Cain. The 5-star running back recruit, a junior at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), received a scholarship offer from the Nittany Lions during an in-person staff visit.
Ja’Juan Seider, brought on board by James Franklin as running backs coach last week, attended Cain’s workout and made it clear Penn State will prioritize him.
“He said they want a workhorse back like Saquon [Barkley],” Cain told Land of 10.
Seider, who spent last season with the Florida Gators, is tasked with helping Penn State replace Barkley, who totaled 2,329 all-purpose yards and accounted for 24 touchdowns in four different ways during his final season in Happy Valley.
“I followed Saquon a lot this year and I loved the way they put the offense around him,” Cain said.
The Nittany Lions are set to enter next fall with a pair of former 5-star running back prospects in Miles Sanders and Ricky Slade, while 2019 recruiting efforts at the position appear promising. Penn State’s newest target is among America’s most coveted playmakers.
Cain was labeled the No. 1 running back in initial 247Sports 2019 rankings, revealed shortly before his sophomore season at Guyer (Denton, Texas) High School. The 5-foot-11, 207-pound standout announced a transfer to IMG in January 2017, joining a program that attracts top prospects from across America.
Considered the No. 19 overall player in 2019 composite rankings, Cain rushed for 3,290 yards (8.1 per carry) and 38 touchdowns during his first three high school seasons, according to MaxPreps. IMG teammate Trey Sanders (ranked No. 11) is the only running back listed ahead of him.
Cain claims dozens of high-level offers, including those from Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. Earlier this month, while attending an Under Armour All-America showcase in Orlando, Fla., he pointed to Ohio State as a university that’s solidified itself among his top contenders.
Several SEC schools are attempting to gain Cain’s attention, and past communication with one program in particular proved to be beneficial for Penn State.
“I did have a good relationship with [Seider] when he was at Florida,” Cain said. “He keeps it real all of the time and doesn’t sugarcoat anything.”
The impact of Seider, a Palm Beach County native, on Nittany Lions recruiting plans has been immediate and aggressive. Penn State offered four prospects from South Florida last weekend, and it’s clear the Sunshine State will be an area of increased concentration following a 2018 cycle that featured two Tampa-area signees (defensive tackle Judge Culpepper and cornerback Jordan Miner).
— JaJuan Seider (@coachseider) January 29, 2018
Cain, who is in the process of scheduling upcoming visits, said he intends to use one in Happy Valley. He quickly reciprocated interest from the Nittany Lions, which is an excellent sign for Franklin & Co., considering the vast amount of collegiate opportunities in front of Cain.
“I was excited about the offer and I will be visiting in the spring,” he said.
Any of his official visits will occur in the fall, rather than taking place during the newly allotted spring visitation period for high school juniors. Beyond that, Cain said he aims to enter his final prep season with a select collection of finalists.
“My top 5 will drop some time in the summer,” he said.
Early enrollment at the school of his choice will follow next winter. As Cain stated in Orlando, he anticipates a strong transition to the next phase of his football career.
“My plan is to get my body right, compete in the spring [of 2019] and earn the starting job,” he said.
Watch Cain’s junior-season highlights here: