Penn State running back signee Noah Cain seriously considered Auburn for his college football destination.
But when questions arose regarding Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s job security after the Iron Bowl loss, followed by offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey’s departure to Kansas and rumors about possible changes to Malzahn’s contract, it prompted Cain to essentially eliminate Auburn.
“I saw that and I just said, ‘I can’t roll with this,'” Cain said at today’s Under Armour All-American Game check-in in Orlando, Florida. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
Cain signed with Penn State during college football’s early signing period, and Auburn flipped 3-star running back DJ Williams, who had been committed to Appalachian State, just before the Dec. 19 signing date.
Williams is ranked No. 399 nationally and No. 25 running back, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, while Cain is ranked No. 104 overall and the No. 7 running back. LSU and Texas were among the other schools Cain seriously considered.
Auburn signed 16 players, so there could be room to add another running back in the late signing period in February.
Auburn offensive line signee Keiondre Jones said today’s he’s working to recruit Mark-Antony Richards, a national top-100 player and No. 3-ranked athlete who could play running back and is also being pursued by Penn State and Miami.
Malzahn, of course, remained at Auburn and lured Kenny Dillingham away from Memphis as the Tigers’ new offensive coordinator. There have not been other major changes to the coaching staff, although Malzahn assumed play-calling duties.
Cain said he watched Auburn’s 63-14 thrashing of Purdue in the Music City Bowl and was impressed with the offense. “I’m going to root for all of my final schools until they play Penn State,” he said.
Cain said he also sees a bright future for Auburn’s offense with Pinson Valley graduate and early enrollee Bo Nix at quarterback and Hoover’s George Pickens, who is committed but did not sign early, at receiver.
Responding to a reporter’s question, Cain said NFL Rookie of the Year candidate Saquon Barkley’s success during his All-American career at Penn State and for the New York Giants this season influenced his decision to pick the Nittany Lions.
“I’m not going to say Saquon Barkley didn’t have an influence,” Cain said. “It just showed me how great Penn State can be for running backs.”