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Penn State Football: Barkley Shines In First Interview With Media

by on April 07, 2016 11:00 AM

It's kind of funny really.

Saquon Barkley, one of the best running backs in the entire nation, legs as thick as tree trunks and moves on the field that would have made Michael Jackson proud on the dance floor. Nothing about how Barkley plays would lead you to believe he ever grapples with the emotions of self-doubt. He's a star in the making, if not a star already born.

So on Wednesday as he spoke to the media for the first time in his career there was something ironic about the fact it was lightweight microphones and not the sight of Joey Bosa that slowed Barkley down.

“I’m a little nervous, I’m not going to lie." Barkley said, a smile slowly working its way across his face.

“Well, especially for guys like me, I’m not really big on talking to the media because I’m not really comfortable,” he added. “I mean not being able to talk to you guys last year, and being able to see the older guys talk and see the right answers and how to communicate back to you guys really helped me.”

And for the next few minutes Barkley took those lessons and ran with them. He talked about his affinity for Netflix, he talked about trying to avoid the pitfalls of being the biggest name on campus, avoiding "twitter noise." He talked about what it's like to be Saquon Barkley and how even he was a little surprised by how well things went. Seeing videos of himself walking on campus. Everything that comes with suddenly being someone. Even if being someone wasn't something he expected.

“I really didn’t expect to play as a freshman, let alone have a 1,000-yard season,” he said. “I don’t think [there was] a time when I actually thought I was ‘The Guy.’ I mean the Buffalo game is where I saw that I could actually play at this level. That I actually could compete with these guys. But I wouldn’t say it made me think ‘Oh, I’m the guy. I’m the running back.’ But that helped my confidence grow that I could actually play on this level.”

Barkley touched on the challenges he faced too, a Maryland defense that limited him and taught him the importance of patience. Little things each week that turned a raw talent into more and more experienced presence on the field.

That's probably what is so remarkable about Barkley. It's not what he has already done, but how far he feels he can still go as a complete player. Little details that can turn him from a great back to an elite one. Something he has at least in theory, three more years to hone.

“The pass blocking and seeing the blitzes, that’s where I struggled a lot last year,” he said. “Talking to the older guys and talking to the linemen and sitting down with the coaches every day, trying to get better every day. I mean the spotlight is a lot bigger than in high school and people notice you. But once again, I just try to block it out and try to be myself.”

By the time Barkley was led away from the circle of reporters two things had become abundantly clear. The first, that after a season of being secluded from the media as a freshman, Barkley's personality appears to be as bright as his talent.

And second, that his talents may not have even been fully tapped yet.



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