— Story by PSU Insider Brian Tripp @psuTripp
Barkley Gaining National Recognition
It’s no secret that Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is among the nation’s top backfield talents. The sophomore tallied a career-best 202 yards on the ground against Maryland in Penn State’s most recent game. It was already the seventh 100-yard effort in his short career. With 1,658 career rushing yards, Barkley is continuing a meteoric rise to stardom. He has displayed speed, power, precision and smarts while toting the football. In fact, he had six runs of 10-plus yards against the Terps and already has 50 carries of ten-or-more yards in his career. The dynamic rusher has also excelled as a receiver and blocker, truly defining himself as a rare three-down back. Against Michigan, Barkley posted a career-high 77 receiving yards and was the first Nittany Lion to lead the team in rushing and receiving since 2014. Barkley leads the team in scoring with 54 points and his season totals of 582 rushing yards, 143 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. His numbers are eye-popping, especially considering opponents’ game plans are always centered around stopping him.
Some fans are already debating Barkley’s spot in program history. Is it too soon to mention the tailback among the likes of Ki-Jana Carter, Larry Johnson, Curt Warner, Blair Thomas and Penn State’s lone Heisman, John Cappelletti?
There’s no doubt Barkley is a dynamic athlete and playmaker. It’s impossible not to dream about the potential of Coplay-native playing behind a more proficient and experienced offensive line. While he still has a lot to accomplish before being listed among Penn State’s all-time great running backs, his highlight reel runs already have already help shape his legacy. And there’s more to come!
Individuals from outside the program are taking notice too. Let’s remember Barkley is playing amongst a vastly talented and deep class of running backs nationwide. His name is discussed almost as much as Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Oregon’s Royce Freeman.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer described Barkley as a “first-rounder at tailback.”
Walterfootball.com’s 2018 NFL mock draft pegged Barkley leaving school early and being selected in the draft’s first 20 picks.
Is it fair to compare Barkley to former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott? Elliott is among the NFL’s best rushers just 6 games into his pro career. Each player does everything well and mesmerizes opponents.
Barkley has already produced numerous signature plays and continues to blossom. He has an extremely bright future. But, what’s perhaps most impressive about the most popular active Nittany Lion, is his humility. Barkley always attributes his success to the others around him. He is more concerned about the team’s performance than his own. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to see the team succeed.
That’s what makes him one of the best.
— Each week, we’ll update you on where Penn State sits in the latest recruiting rankings. This week, the Nittany Lions drop two spots in the Rivals and Scout.com rankings with no additional commitments. Saturday’s whiteout game vs. Ohio State should prove as a showcase for the program. Typically, the primetime clash is the well-attended by high-profile targets and commitments.
|Big Ten Rank||8||7||5|
Commitments by Position:
QB – 1
WR – 2
OL – 4
DL – 2
LB – 2
CB – 1
S – 2
Recruiting News Links:
– PennLive’s Greg Pickel takes a look at a potential Penn State target and shares the disappointing story of former Lions’ running back Akeel Lynch.
– Sean Fitz of Lions 24/7 highlights a standout performance from a Penn State commitment.