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Penn State Football: Barkley Reflects On Sudden Heisman Talk

by on November 09, 2016 1:20 PM

Penn State football appears to have finally entered star running back Saquon Barkley's name into the Heisman campaign. The program sending out a graphic in a tweet on Tuesday promoting the idea that maybe Barkley's outstanding 2016 season so far shouldn't be a largely overlooked statistic by the rest of the nation any longer.

Barkley, asked about the tweet and his Heisman candidacy as a whole was his usual reserved self, appreciating the praise but not much more than that.

"I saw that yesterday and I'm ever so grateful for them doing that," Barkley said. "Growing up playing video games and playing NCAA, that's like who you dream about being and being in that talk. But I'm really not looking too much into it right now. I'm just kind of trying to stay focused on the task ahead and that's just Indiana this week."

Some this might be Barkley realizing how long of odds he has right now to seriously enter the race. ESPN's most recent Heisman poll features 10 different players, none of which are Penn State's standout sophomore. In reality while Barkley may very well be one of the Top 3 running backs in the nation, his statistics, especially against Penn State's two toughest opponents this season, haven't really reached the elite level. There isn't any doubt Barkley has the talent, but his 1,055 yards rushing and 257 yards receiving with 13 total scores is above average but not quite elite.

For example the two running backs on ESPN's list include D'Onta Foreman (1,446 and 13 TDs) and Donnel Pumphrey (1,581 and 13 TDs) Barkley's numbers aren't far off of that in total, but Pumphrey has been held under 100 yards once this season while Barkley hasn't broken the century mark on five occasions, albeit breaking the 100-yard all purpose mark twice in two of those games. 

"This running back class is really, really good and there's so many playmakers," Barkley added. "So being able to see other running backs make plays is also cool, too. But I don't really focus on their numbers or their stats. And I don't really focus on my stats or my numbers. I just try to stay focused on getting ready for games and preparing myself ... to be in the best situation to win the game this week and help the team."

In the end Barkley deserves to be in the conversation because of his talent, even if his numbers don't necessarily reflect a winning resume. He is pound-for-pound one of the best players in college football and should be recognized as such. It may not be until 2017 though that the Heisman train can really start running as Barkley enters his junior (and possibly final) season at Penn State.

Then again, ask his teammates, like safety Marcus Allen, and things are much easier to quantify. 

"Of course," Allen said when asked about Barkley as a Heisman candidate. "Hey, that's that. You don't got to ask me that. You know I'm going to say he is. I don't know why people ain't talking about him. Everybody should know that he's a Heisman contender."



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