It should come as no surprise that one of the dazzling dynamic freshmen duo in the Penn State football backfield was Pro Football Focus’ fourth highest-graded rusher last season.
But, what might crinkle some foreheads is that it wasn’t the one who was one of five Big Ten rushers to cross the 1,000-yard mark last year with a sensational 6.8 yards per carry that placed him comfortably in the number two spot in the entire conference.
It’s also not the one who is ranked as the pre-season number three running back in all the land according to On3 Sports for the upcoming season.
— On3 (@On3sports) February 22, 2023
Oh sure, Nick singleton deserves the recognition bestowed upon him.
After all, Singleton made an huge splash in Happy Valley last year piling up 1061 yards on the ground to go along with 12 touchdowns.
Singleton also tallied seven rushes of 40-plus yards, the second most in all of college football in 2022, that included an off-the-hook performance in the Rose Bowl when he exploded for 120 yards on just seven carries and two touchdowns, in that big 38-21 win over Utah.
The kid’s got some serious game and brings with him all the hype that comes with it.
Nope, the guy from that PFF report card was snubbed from the list above.
But Singleton’s counterpart, Kaytron Allen, might not be flying under the national radar for very long.
Will Penn State Football RB Kaytron Allen Become a Household Name?
While Singleton is enjoying slightly more pomp and circumstance because of his overall numbers from last season, lest we forget that Allen was also a key figure in an 11 win campaign last year, and he figures to be an integral part of head coach James Franklin’s high powered offense during the 2023 college football season.
“It meant a lot to be on the field,” Allen told reporters, during Media Day for the Rose Bowl back in December. “It was really great. But I feel like there’s more I can learn. There are more details I can get better at. I can keep improving.”
Allen certainly appears to have the right attitude and he says all the right things.
But, while talk is cheap, it can be very costly if you don’t back it up. Allen’s body of work in 13 games last year did just that.
He burst onto the college scene with 867 yards and 10 scores on the ground.
This time last year, Allen enrolled at PSU and after leaving the bursar’s office went straight for the weight room and by the time the season rolled around the “Fat Man” as was his nickname
was anything but.
According to the head coach, Allen “changed his body as much as anybody in our program.”
Allen attributes his first year’s success in part to running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider.
Seider facilitates a team first culture in the running backs room. That mentality carried over to the field last year as the blue chip running backs mostly alternated series.
But when in the “T formation” i.e. with Allen, Singleton and a tight end all in the backfield, Allen served as Singleton’s lead blocker and vice versa.
Allen put himself on the college map last September when he punched in a couple of scores against Auburn on the road.
Seven days later he rushed for 111 yards and added another score against Central Michigan.
He went on to average 6.3 yards per carry against Ohio State in late October and a week later he overpowered Indiana with three scores on the ground, something that no other Penn State Football freshman has done since 2003.
Later, Allen broke the century mark once again at Rutgers two weeks after that racking up 117 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries.
With the empirical data we now have from a fabulous freshman campaign, there shouldn’t be any crinkled foreheads next year.
We should expect to see much of the same from Penn State’s one-two ground punch in 2023, and with that said we shouldn’t be surprised if that top-10 list above includes both of the Nittany Lions’ dynamic duel threat some time soon.