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Lions RBs coach Seider to check in on top target

When Penn State hired Ja’Juan Seider as running backs coach last January, James Franklin wasn’t coy about the impact on program recruiting efforts.

“You don’t hire Ja’Juan and not recruit Florida,” Franklin said on National Signing Day 2018. “We have recruited Florida in the past, but obviously, once you make this decision, you’re going to recruit it harder.”

Seider, a Palm Beach County native, is know as a highly effective recruiter in the Sunshine State. He spent last season on the Florida Gators staff and, this summer, helped Penn State pick up a pledge from four-star receiver John Dunmore (Hollywood, Fla.)

“He’s going to get us into some doors because of his relationships and his reputation that maybe we weren’t involved in before,” Franklin said.

The recruitment of running back Noah Cain is a great example. Less than one week after Penn State announced his hiring, Seider extended a scholarship offer to him on behalf of the Nittany Lions.

“I did have a good relationship with (Seider) when he was at Florida,” Cain said hours after receiving the offer. “He keeps it real all of the time and doesn’t sugarcoat anything.”

Now, 10 months later, the two are set for another in-person meeting. Cain told Lions247 he expects a visit from Seider on Thursday.

The contact period — enabling off-campus interaction between coaches and prospects started Sunday across college football’s recruiting landscape. Penn State has a highly active travel itinerary in place and it’s no surprise to see Cain spotlighted on it.

A senior, he’s spent nearly his entire prep career on the national recruiting radar. Power Five teams began showing interest during his freshman season at Guyer (Denton, Texas) High School, and attention has only intensified since a 2017 transfer to IMG Academy, where he shared the backfield with top-ranked 2019 running back recruit Trey Sanders.

Cain, a 5-foot-10, 212-pound prospect, is considered the No. 7 running back in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings. He claims approximately 30 offers but narrowed his focus this summer.

In late July, Cain announced six favorites: Auburn, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State and Texas. This season, he used official visits at Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Penn State and Texas.

He attended the Nittany Lions’ Nov. 10 win over Wisconsin. Cain’s first trip to Happy Valley occurred in April, when he accompanied his father to campus, and that initial experience made a major impression.

“I’m not going to lie to you — I was surprised,” Cain said afterward. “When Coach Seider first got up there, I talked to my dad about checking it out. I thought, ’Well, they had Saquon Barkley up there. It can’t be that bad.’ I was expecting a decent visit but it definitely surpassed my expectations. I was blown away by everything.”

His parents returned to Penn State in July, without him, for the Lasch Bash barbecue event.

Though Cain has attended high school in Florida and Texas, he considers Baton Rouge, La., home. His willingness to explore collegiate options regardless of region has always stood out, and that has Penn State in contention here.

The Nittany Lions carry a verbal commitment from Devyn Ford, the No. 4 running back in 2019 composite rankings, but have continued to push for another blue-chip rusher this cycle. Cain has repeatedly expressed comfort regarding positional competition within his recruitment class, and he’ll enroll early at the school of his choice to compete in spring camp.

Cain’s 247Sports Crystal Ball points toward Texas, which claims 65 percent of commitment predictions, including the last six. LSU follows behind with 25 percent, though the most recent pick there came in Week Three of the college football season.

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