Penn State Football: Do RBs Hold Key to Lack of Proven WR Depth?

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NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

The latest news, insight, and analysis of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, and Penn State Basketball, including schedules, game results, analysis of breaking news, rumors, speculation, and recruiting coverage of future Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home to the latest Penn State Nittany Lions news, updates, insight, and analysis, including in-depth coverage of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball, and much more

Penn State Football: Could Running Backs be Key to Lack of Proven WR Depth?

Heading out of spring practice, Penn State Football still lacks proven depth at wide receiver, especially after the transfer of leading wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith to Auburn.

No wide receiver on the 2024 Penn State roster has accumulated more than 40 career catches or 550 career yards outside of Ohio State transfer Julian Fleming.

Penn State Football
Penn State Football Running Back Kaytron Allen (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

However, starting quarterback Drew Allar may have revealed a key insight into what Penn State and new offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki plan to do to ease the pressure on Penn State’s wide receivers and himself this fall: Utilize Penn State’s running back room in the passing game.

In answering questions after spring practice on Penn State’s running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, Drew Allar noted that having two good running backs “puts a lot of stress on the defense.”

Allar continued that Kotelnicki’s offense is “getting [the running backs] the ball in space as receivers.”

How Nick Singleton, Kaytron Allen Can Boost Passing Game

Penn State Football, Nick Singleton
Nicholas Singleton #10 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

This is a contrast to the usage of the running backs under former offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich last season, where it seemed Singleton especially was not getting the ball in space for much of the season.

After Yurcich was relieved of his duties in November, Penn State implemented more plays to get the running backs the ball in space, particularly Nick Singleton.

Against Michigan State in the regular season finale and Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl, Singleton caught six passes for 154 yards and a touchdown, accounting for over half of his season yardage in the two contests.

In total, Penn State’s running backs caught 40 passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns in 2023, accounting for 16 percent of Penn State’s catches and 13.9 percent of Penn State’s receiving yards.

According to Allar, Penn State fans should expect to see this usage in the passing game increase in 2024.

The Penn Football State signal caller highlighted the development of Penn State’s pair of junior backs this offseason, specifically noting that “their pass-catching ability has really developed.”

While Singleton (injury prevention) and Allen (recovering from injury) did not participate in Penn State’s annual Blue-White Game earlier this month, Penn State fans did get a potential glimpse into the running back usage this fall.

Freshman Quinton Martin scored two touchdowns on the ground and Cam Wallace caught a couple of passes out of the backfield from Drew Allar.

In warmups before the game, Penn State fans saw Allar connecting with London Montgomery and Quinton Martin on different passing routes.


Setting Expectations for Penn State Football Passing Game

Drew Allar, Penn State Football
Penn State Nittany Lions starting quarterback Drew Allar (15)(Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire)

With months before Penn State travels to Morgantown to take on West Virginia in Week 1, there is plenty of time left for Andy Kotelnicki and Penn State to fully implement the new offense for the Nittany Lions.

After the Blue-White Game, Allar noted that Penn State did not show much in the game, mentioning that the play calling was “pretty vanilla.”

Asked further if Penn State showed anything of what the new offense will eventually look like, Allar continued “honestly no.”

So, although we are hearing plenty about what Penn State’s offense will look like in 2024, particularly with the wide receivers and running backs, Penn State fans will need to wait until August to see what it actually looks like on the field in game action.

The 2024 campaign will be a massive year for both of Penn State’s starting running backs, as both become draft-eligible at the end of the season.

Whether either Singleton or Allen return in 2025 for the Nittany Lions likely will depend on if the promising talk turns into production on the field this fall. If either or both do declare for the 2025 draft, then the battle for Penn State’s 2024 running back three jobs becomes even more important for the battle for the starting position in 2025.

MORE: Why Analyst Says Penn State is ‘Championship Caliber’ in 2024

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