Noah Cain / Special
Noah Cain (second from right) enjoyed another good trip to UGA this week.

UGA recruiting: No. 1 junior RB Noah Cain still bullish on Athens

Jeff Sentell

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way the nation’s No. 1 junior RB Noah Cain might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.


Noah Cain is smart and calculating. He’s going to make his choice with the logic that his future RB coach will want him to read every crease.

The 5-foot-10.5, 207-pounder moved to IMG Academy to enhance his chance to excel at the next level. When he sees 5-stars like Xavier Thomas and UGA commit Nolan Smith in the box at practice, he doesn’t dilly dally around the hole. It already simulates what he will see on Saturdays.

Noah Cain
Noah Cain, the nation’s No. 1 RB for 2019, picked up his offer from UGA on March 3. (Student Sports / Special)

Cain has impressed Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford with his football IQ. Alford asked him to get on board and draw up his favorite running play. He chose a counter play and noted what everyone had to do to take him “to the promised land.”

247Sports rates him as the nation’s No. 1 RB for the Class of 2019.

Cain also likes Georgia a great deal and was in town again this week. He had deep ties to the program and understands the RB tradition for Kirby Smart’s program.

His latest visit was more detailed.

“Georgia got to me a little bit more on this trip,” he said. “I got to speak to coach Kirby Smart for about 15-to-20 minutes. He told me about how they still plan to use two backs in the new system he’s implementing. They are still going to be a run-first team but are kind of going a little bit spread now, too. That is to get all their athletes in space so they can make plays.”

The running back rotation makes sense to him. He realizes that 30-plus carries per game in the SEC will affect his long-term earning power on Sundays.

“He said my body won’t get beat up as much in the SEC and I’ll always be fresh and ready to go,” Cain said. “That’s to my benefit.”

What was the biggest thing Smart told him?

“He said I fit what they are looking for at the running back position,” Cain said. “They love my vision, balance and speed and I fit the offense perfectly. He said they have everything I’m looking for academically and athletically for what I am trying to do with my football career. They are one of the top academic institutions and they are selling the pitch about life after football too with resources and a network to help me land a good job, too.”

What Noah Cain feels about UGA

The nation’s No. 1 junior RB was also impressed by the offensive line Smart is building in Athens. He said it could be the finest line in the nation by the time he plays in 2019.

“That new offensive line is going to be really good and ready by the time I would get up there if I went to Georgia,” he said.

Cain said he already has strong ties to UGA. He laid out a simple plan for the Bulldogs to ensure they get an official visit next fall. (Student Sports / Special)

Cain has family in Atlanta. That’s a plus. He also has a deep connection with UGA support staffer Jay Valai. DawgNation had a detailed summation of that connection earlier this spring.

In short, he trusts Valai more than any other member of a college football program that is currently recruiting him.

“Coach Jay is like family to me,” Cain said. “Coach Jay and I go back to when I was eight years old. I haven’t talked to a coach more than I do coach Jay. That’s a real close family connection. I can talk to him about anything and life in general.”

What has Valai told him about Georgia?

“When I ask him, he just tells me there is no better place to be for a running back,” Cain said. “For a running back and what I am trying to do and how high I am trying to get drafted, he said that Georgia would be the perfect situation for me. A lot of the schools I like and have mentioned are also like that, but he says that Georgia is also a real family-oriented place.”

“Coach Smart is bringing that program on the rise. I know that defense is going to be good because he came from Alabama and is going to bring in those type of guys. He said that Coach Smart is going to play smash-mouth football with a guy like me. Get a great offensive line. Get the right backs and go.”

But there’s a catch to all of that.

What could hurt UGA or any school with Noah Cain

Georgia is within striking distance of landing a commitment from the nation’s No. 1 RB for 2018 in Zamir White. The Bulldogs also have every coach equipped with a spatula trying to flip Florida State legacy James Cook.

Cook is the nation’s No. 3 RB in 2018. White plus Cook likely equals no Cain. His goals are to be a big part of an offense early, to win a national championship and to also win a Heisman Trophy. If Georgia lands those two guys, that would be a strong RB core with Brian Herrien, Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift also in Athens.

Noah Cain
Noah Cain is going to study what the schools he likes signs at RB in 2018 to find his best fit. (Noah Cain / Special)

“I’m not afraid of competition, but I don’t plan to go into a situation with three-to-four really good running backs already in place that I really respect who I feel like I will be splitting carries with,” Cain said. “I know Georgia is going after some big backs like that in the ’18 class. Georgia is going after the best in the ’18 class just like it is with the ’19 class. So I am going to be really smart about that.”

“I see a lot of schools loading up on backs in the ’18 class and that’s all well and good. But I am going to make the best decision for myself because I am going to graduate early in 2018 and enroll in the spring. I want to play early.”

Cain sounds like he’s probing to find the best opportunity when he says that. The same way he’d pick and choose the best hole on the field. Run to daylight. Avoid the traffic jam. That’s what he is thinking there.

“I just want to take a good luck at UGA in 2018 and see how they use Elijah Holyfield and all their other running backs like (D’Andre) Swift after Nick Chubb and Sony Michel leave that rotation,” Cain said.

Cain will work hard. He likes FSU, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Texas, too.  Every school will have backs. Plural. He just doesn’t want to see a flood of them and everyone lining up in two-by-twos.

Noah Cain
Noah Cain already has a very strong tie to UGA. But LSU, Ohio State and Texas should also be seen as big-time contenders. (Student Sports / Special)

“I just want to earn my carries and get in a rotation early,” Cain said. “I don’t want to be in a rotation with three or four other guys. But two other guys is really good. Three guys would even be good. I just want to see a path to be in a clear rotation and make my name known early.”

He’s not looking to be the starter. That’s illogical at all those big schools. Cain just hopes to be among the Top 3 options when he arrives. That’s not running from competition, but more like being very honest and very smart about it.

Schools look at it like a business decision. Cain has that same mindset.

“Schools that run a pro-style offense or a balanced offense is what I am looking for,” Cain said. “It is all a matter of how will I be able to showcase my talent every Saturday.”

Speed round with Noah Cain

Cain realizes that he’s working on these schools right now. Trying to build up their interest. A lot of this recruiting attention is initiated by the prospect at this time. When he’s a junior on Sept. 1, then he knows which schools are really after him hard. They’ll show him where he sits on their RB board.

That’s the date provided by the NCAA when they can legally contact their top targets. We’ll go rapid-fire to figure out where he stands on several of his deciding factors.

  • School which has been recruiting him the hardest: Ohio State or Texas (tough to say)
  • Best current vibes with a recruiter: Tony Alford (Ohio State) and Stan Drayton (Texas)
  • Relationship that is slowly developing into something: LSU
  • Best offensive line situation: It is currently Ohio State (Georgia would be that team for 2019)
  • Best academic fit: Texas
  • Coolest edits: Texas (The Longhorns grabbed that status recently)
  • QB he wants to play with: 4-star Grant Tisdale (He rates as the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat for 2019)
  • OLs he wants to play with: 4-star OT Kenyon Green and 4-star OG Kardell Thomas (Both LSU commits)
  • WRs he wants to play with: 4-star Texans Theo Wease and Jalen Curry
  • Best collection of visits and fit so far: Texas
  • Childhood dream school: LSU (He said he’s broadened his horizons since those early days.)
  • Best words that describe his game: Acceleration. Football IQ. Footwork. Strength. Vision.
  • Best guys on the IMG defense: 5-stars Xavier Thomas and Nolan Smith and Nebraska 2018 cornerback commit Brendan Radley-Hiles.

Cain has also been to Texas so far this summer. He will be on his second trip to Ohio State since April today. He also plans a three-day trip to see Michigan after that visit. Cain will also visit LSU in Baton Rouge where all of his family is before he heads back to IMG Academy to get ready for the 2017 season.

Alford is really after him. Cain said he speaks to him about 2-3 times per week. They went over his film and what he can do better in pass protection the last time he was in Columbus.

“I spent about 25 minutes in coach Urban Meyer’s office on my last trip there,” Cain said. “He was talking about how blessed he was to be in the position he is as the coach at Ohio State. I was talking about how blessed I was to be where I am in my recruiting cycle. He really told me not to take any bit of this for granted.”