BATON ROUGE – When Noah Cain was growing up, he had to correct people on where he was from.
Cain is a Baton Rouge native, despite spending 12 years of his childhood going to school in the Dallas area. He moved to the Lone Star state with his mother after Hurricane Katrina. But he spent his summers and holidays in Louisiana and the rest of his family, including his father, lives in Baton Rouge.
Those roots explain why Cain, a junior running back who transferred to LSU from Penn State this offseason, always considered LSU to be his dream school.
“(After transferring to LSU) I started hearing from people I haven’t talked to in years,” Cain told reporters on Friday after LSU’s second day of preseason practices. “It was great though. The whole family was happy, just being able to come back home. My grandparents are just 20 minutes up from the street.”
At 5-foot-11 and 226 pounds, Cain began his high school years at Guyer but then transferred to IMG Academy for his final two seasons. He blossomed as a recruit at IMG, becoming a top-100 prospect and the No. 6 running back in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite.
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He wanted to come to LSU, but the Tigers already had two running backs committed to its 2019 class: five-star John Emery Jr. and four-star Tyrion Davis-Price. So he went to Penn State instead and broke out as a freshman, rushing for 443 yards and eight touchdowns.
Davis-Price is off to the NFL, but Emery Jr. is Cain’s teammate for the first time this season. The two got to know each other in high school, as they were roommates at the Nike Opening football camp.
“We’re making each other better,” Cain said. “We’ll get extra routes in, jugs, watch films together, just kind of feed off each other trying to just pick each other’s brains because we both understand like ‘man, we can really do something special.’ “
Cain’s time in Happy Valley wasn’t always happy. A lisfranc injury ended his 2020 season just three carries into the first game against Indiana. He recovered enough to play in 2021, starting six times, but wasn’t the same physically as he was the season before.
Now Cain says he is 120% ready to go.
“I wasn’t really able to put the film out that I wanted to,” Cain said about last season. “Now to have the opportunity to have a full offseason to recover, a full summer, I’m just going to get back to myself.”
Running backs coach Frank Wilson was the LSU coach who targeted Cain in his recruitment from the portal. But Cain didn’t want to be recruited, he knew exactly where he wanted to go.
“When I ended up committing to coming back home, it was a surreal moment,” Cain said. “My first day being here in workouts, I’m putting on the LSU workout gear and it was just surreal.”
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.