Why this Penn State freshman running back might carve a role in the Lawn Boyz's workload this season

With a seemingly open competition to become the third running back on the depth chart behind Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, Blue-White game standout freshman Quinton Martin Jr. has already started to make his case for the spot, and maybe even a little more.
Penn State running back Quinton Martin Jr.
Penn State running back Quinton Martin Jr. / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Quinton Martin Jr. arrived in Happy Valley in January as one of sixteen Penn State football early enrollees. Martin hails from Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, which is about an hour south of Pittsburgh. By 247Sports, he was ranked as the 130th player from the 2024 recruiting class and the third in Pennsylvania.

Head coach James Franklin has always made it a priority to recruit the top players from Pennsylvania, and he made sure Martin, who grew up watching Penn State football, stayed home to wear the blue and white threads on Saturdays in the fall.

Martin showed out for the estimated 67,000 fans inside Beaver Stadium for the first time in 2024 a few weeks ago. He scored two touchdowns on nine and twelve-yard runs, sparking the fans during the cool spring afternoon. Martin looked quick and explosive on his limited reps at the scrimmage. His ability to punish defenders and his sudden change of direction was certainly shown, and Franklin shared some praise for Martin in his press conference after the scrimmage.

“He’s an awesome kid, he’s learned the offense really well, I think he’s got really good vision,” Franklin added. "Between now and West Virginia, he’s got a lot of work to do, and I think he’ll do it. I think he’ll have a chance to be competing in that rotation in training camp.” Franklin also disclosed that Martin dealt with minor injuries that impeded his availability during spring camp.

With the Lawn Boyz, running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, returning to Penn State for their junior seasons, there will not be many carries available for any running back behind them. Minnesota transfer Trey Potts served behind the Lawn Boyz as the third running back last season for the Nittany Lions, garnering 29 touches for 212 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.

It is worth noting that last year Singleton did not replicate his blistering freshman season. His yards-per-attempt went down from 6.8 to 4.4 in 2023. He was supposed to be the homerun-hitting running back like he was in 2022, but he struggled to get going last season. If Singleton’s elusiveness and breakaway speed are limited again, this might create an avenue to the field that Martin could take advantage of. Martin is a shifty, agile running back who offers big-play ability as a receiver out of the backfield as well. Penn State football fans are very hopeful that Singleton will take a big leap next season, but if he doesn’t, look for Martin to potentially get a sliver of his snaps.

The competition will most likely be between Martin and redshirt freshmen Cam Wallace and London Montgomery. They will all seek to get the available touches that Potts received last season, which were mostly in games where the Nittany Lions were leading by a wide margin. If Martin does the work he is asked of by Franklin and running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider, he might be seeing some action between the sidelines. He is a very talented player who could be the future featured back for Penn State due to the possibility of Singleton and Allen, with productive seasons, entering the 2025 NFL draft.

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