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PSU HC Franklin Says RB Lee has Been Hurt, ‘Hopeful’ for his Return

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Keyvone Lee scores on a 31-yard TD run.

Keyvone Lee’s absence has been noticeable.

The Penn State running back got one carry against Michigan Oct. 15. Three days later, Lee wasn’t at Penn State’s Wednesday practice, and coach James Franklin told reporters Lee didn’t miss practice because of class. 

Lee hasn’t played in the two games since, and despite fan theories as to Lee’s status and future with the program, Franklin told reporters in this week’s Tuesday press conference that Lee “has been hurt.”

“You guys know I don’t get into injuries,” Franklin said, “and sometimes for a situation like this. Keyvone has been out or limited for five weeks.”

It’s been a tough year for Lee. He was Penn State’s leading rusher in 2020 and ’21, but in Year 3, he’s taken a back seat to true freshmen studs, Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen. 

Lee sent what some would call a cryptic tweet Sunday, adding to the theories about what’s been going on with him.

 

 

Lee has played in five of Penn State’s eight games this season, counting the Michigan game, which barely qualifies as an appearance. Lee also only ran the ball once in Penn State’s home-opening win over Ohio in Week 2, and that carry went for no gain.

He didn’t touch the ball in Penn State’s win over Central Michigan Sept. 24.

Overall, he’s run for 94 yards on 25 carries, suitable for a 3.8 yards per carry average. He has yet to run for a touchdown, and his longest run of the season went for just 12 yards.

Lee did have a moment of glory in Penn State’s dramatic season opener at Purdue. In what will likely go down as his signature moment at Penn State, he caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Sean Clifford with less than a minute left. Penn State held on for a 35-31 triumph.

Lee began his college football career in 2020, and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact. Lee finished the pandemic-themed nine-game season with 438 yards and a 4.9 yards per carry average, scoring four touchdowns. 

In 2021, he again averaged 4.9 yards per carry but spent much of the season as a face in a crowded backfield with John Lovett and Noah Cain.

Franklin said the team is “hopeful” for Lee’s return.

 

“When we have him back,” Franklin said, “we feel like we’ve got three really good backs that, now at this point of the season, are experienced and can make plays in the pass and run game.”

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