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Penn State Football: Barkley Lands At No.5 On Sports Illustrated's Top 100 List

by on June 30, 2017 11:30 AM

Saquon Barkley came in at No.5 on Sports Illustrated's Top 100 players list Friday morning as the countdown came to its conclusion. The honor comes as fellow Nittany Lions Mike Gesicki and Trace McSorley both found themselves on the list at No.81 and No.41 respectively.

Check out what SI had to say about Penn State's star running back.

The deep class of established running backs (Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook among them) returning to college football last season obscured how good Barkley was and the amount of damage he was about to inflict on defenses tasked with trying to stop him. Barkley sprinted, plowed, spun and juked his way to 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns while propelling Penn State to its most wins this decade (11) and its first Rose Bowl appearance since 2008. Opponents were mostly helpless trying to hold Barkley in check, and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead should find even more creative ways to use the incandescent junior in his second season running the Nittany Lions’ attack.

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SI on Gesicki:

Gesicki proved a snug fit in then-new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s up-tempo system last season, recording program records for a tight end with 48 catches and 679 receiving yards. Yet that production went mostly unnoticed nationally during the Nittany Lions’ stunning run to a conference title, as Michigan standout Jake Butt hogged the Big Ten tight end spotlight. Now that Penn State’s leading receiver Chris Godwin is gone, quarterback Trace McSorley should look to Gesicki even more often. Defensive coordinators focused on shutting down star running back Saquon Barkley risk getting burned on short and intermediate throws to the 6’6”, 252-pound senior.

SI on McSorley:

For better or worse, there may be no bigger wild card in all of college football than McSorley. He seemed to be putting it all together as the back half of his sophomore season wound down, taking care of the football and making fearless throws as Penn State swiped a Big Ten championship...and then he tossed three backbreaking picks in a dramatic Rose Bowl loss to USC that showcased both the best and worst of his hyper-aggressive playing style. Thanks to Heisman candidate running back Saquon Barkley, the Nittany Lions have the College Football Playoff in their sights this year. McSorley is somehow both their best chance of breaking into the top four and the most likely reason their campaign implodes by November.

You can read the entire list of players here.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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