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Penn State Football: Barkley Likely Set For Situational Returns On Special Teams

by on August 31, 2016 6:00 AM

Probably one of the more eyebrow raising moves of Penn State's offseason is looking less and less like something fans will need to get their heart checked over.

Yes, sophomore star running back Saquon Barkley will probably be returning kicks this season on Penn State's special teams unit, but no, probably not very often.

"You would love for one guy to take ahold of that job and run with it where you feel like he can serve that role, whether it's backed up, whether it's end of the game situations, whatever it may be. You feel confident with who that punt returner is or that kick returner," Penn State coach James Franklin said on Tuesday.

'I think Saquon is probably the one guy, has been pretty strong, had a pretty strong voice all off-season that he wanted to be more involved on special teams and have a bigger role and bigger impact on the team. So we talked about being able to use him, maybe not as your full-time kick returner but be able to use him at spots, and we'll see how that goes."

On Penn State's recently released depth chart Barkley is second on the list behind sophomore Nick Scott for kick returns and unlisted on a punt returner unit of Gregg Garrity, DeAndre Thompkins and Mark Allen. If Barkley is true used only situationally it wouldn't be a surprise if speedster Brandon Polk or freshman Miles Sanders jump Barkley in the rotation if return coverage calls for two receivers.

"I think the development of those other guys, Miles and Polk and Nick Scott; obviously depending on how dynamic those guys are being, that maybe you don't have to go that route. But I know it's something that Saquon feels very, very strongly about; that he wants to help the team in as many ways as possible."

Regardless of who ends up back there, special teams is an area that Franklin is the most excited about seeing improve from Year 2 to Year 3.

"The area I'm probably most excited about is special teams," Franklin said during an interview earlier this week. "I think it's an area that gets overlook by the fans and the media."

So no worries, Barkley might be back there to try and swing momentum a few times this season, but the Nittany Lions' most prized possession isn't going to be a regular fixture during the most dangerous play the game has to offer.

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