Kaytron Allen steals the show in Penn State’s 45-14 victory over Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, In. — Penn State had the eighth-best recruiting class in 2022, and many of its talented freshmen enrolled early, one of which was running back Kaytron Allen.
During one of the first winter workouts, Allen put his hands on his knee, which is frowned upon and senior captains Sean Clifford and Ji’Ayir Brown went over and talked to him.
The Norfolk, Virginia, native got right up into Clifford and Brown’s faces, not backing down from the veterans.
“Off rip, I saw that fire,” Clifford said. “I saw that type of dude that’s gonna snap if he feels like it. I think that attitude, that fire that I saw that day — I’m glad that he’s honed it into what he’s doing right now.”
Before that moment, Clifford and his teammates viewed Allen as a quiet kid, but after, they had great found respect for the freshman.
In Saturday’s 45-14 victory over Indiana, Allen stole the show by rushing for 86 yards and three touchdowns while picking up 72 yards through the air.
The blue and white offense struggled early, but it leaned on Allen for a spark, who finished the game averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
Entering the contest against the Hoosiers, the Nittany Lions rarely used Allen in the passing game, but that all changed when he took a simple check down for 45 yards while breaking several tackles.
“To be able to take a check down and hit Kaytron Allen, and for him to break it for 30 or 50 yards, they are big-time plays,” James Franklin said.
While Allen had the spotlight on Saturday, it hasn’t always been his show as in the same recruiting class, Penn State brought in five-star Nicholas Singleton, who was the Gatorade Player of the Year.
Singleton also played well in the victory, rushing for 73 yards on 16 carries while finding the end zone for the Nittany Lions' first score of the game.
Allen may not have the same explosiveness that Singleton possesses, but he has great vision to find the holes in the defense, and he consistently fights for extra yards.
After Singleton burst onto the scene with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in the blue and white’s second and third contests of the year, Allen is slowly catching up to him in yards, and they both have eight touchdowns this campaign.
“I remember Kaytron when he first got here, and to say that he is anything close to the player that he is now compared to there would be an understatement,” Clifford said.
Many fans expected the freshman duo to have success in their first year in Happy Valley, but few could have predicted the impact they have made.
Keyvone Lee was Penn State’s starting running back in the season-opener against Purdue, with Singleton and Allen listed as second and third, respectively.
That depth chart quickly changed as Allen made his second career start on Saturday and Keyvone Lee missed his third straight game with an injury.
Clifford mentioned “Fatman,” the nickname for Allen, is one of the “most improved players” he’s seen in his career, which is high praise from a guy who has nearly six years of collegiate experience.
“The way he works,” Clifford said. “The way he excels. He comes from a tough spot, jumping in the winter.”
A year ago, the Nittany Lions running game was virtually non-existent as they failed to have a running back eclipse 100 yards in a game, but Allen and Singleton have revitalized a unit that has had little success since 2019.
The blue and white finished with 179 rushing yards and four touchdowns, with Tank Smith and Tyler Holzworth getting playing time late in the game.
“We have two really good backs that we’re excited about,” Franklin said. “They’re getting a ton of reps and getting a ton of experience.”
That experience Franklin mentioned is allowing for the two freshman backs to etch their names into the Penn State record books as they both sit just one touchdown away from breaking the freshman record for rushing touchdowns in a season.
Allen’s development from when he first stepped on his campus, almost fighting with Clifford and Brown, to rushing for three scores in the Nittany Lions' ninth game of the season, has given fans great hope for the future.
“Kaytron has a lot of hunger,” wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley said. “ I’ve seen that in him since the first day we got here together. At the end of the day, he works super hard, and he wants to be the best. I think that’s what I really see in him.”
Alex Rocco is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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