Penn State football officially plucks Class of 2025 running back out of SEC country

The Penn State Nittany Lions and James Franklin don't need to keep adding to the running back room, but running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider just can't stop bringing in talent, now landing an official commitment from Kiandrea Barker, who shut down his recruiting on Thursday.
Penn State running back coach Ja'Juan Seider
Penn State running back coach Ja'Juan Seider / Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

Running back is the one offensive position where Penn State consistently has an embarrassment of riches. The Nittany Lions have Kayton Allen and Nick Singleton locked in as the starting duo for 2024 with plenty of young talent arriving right behind like freshmen Quinton Martin and Corey Smith. Despite the logjam, James Franklin and running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider continue to dominate running back recruiting. 

Back on April 16, 2023, Kiandrea Barker, a 247Sports three-star running back recruiting from Beebe Arkansas, committed to the Nittany Lions, but on Thursday, well over a year later, Barker officially shut down his recruiting. His home-state Arkansas Razorbacks were making a big push to land the 5-foot-11 183-pound back who played his first two seasons of high school football in Arkansas before leaving for Texas and now Miami, where he’ll wrap up his high school career. 

Barker is scheduled to take an official visit to Happy Valley on June 14 with 20 other recruits, 13 of which have already committed to the Nittany Lions. He was just offered by Arkansas on May 14, and as the Razorbacks heated up recruiting, it appears that Penn State finally slammed the door shut.

While Barker hasn’t been particularly loyal to his high school programs, he has stayed locked into his Penn State commitment even with four-star back Alvin Henderson and Mr. PA Football Tiqwai Hayes from Aliquippa High School in Pittsburgh already members of the Nittany Lions’ 2025 class. 

With Allen and Singleton entrenched at the position for the past two years and likely at least one more, Penn State’s running back depth hasn’t been tested much. Franklin, Seider, and new offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki appear to be preparing for life without the Lawn Boyz by loading up at running back in the 2024 and 2025 recruiting classes. However, the positional value doesn’t make much sense from a roster construction standpoint, especially with the lack of talent at wide receiver in recent years. 

While the logic of this commitment and the focus on running backs over receivers may be hard to track, it is still a positive anytime Franklin can head into the teeth of SEC country and pluck out a highly-coveted prospect. Barker also had offers from Arkansas, Auburn, and Ole Miss, along with Big Ten rivals USC and Wisconsin. 

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