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Penn State Football: Saquon Barkley Might Be Getting Better, Somehow

by on October 04, 2017 1:40 PM

Saquon Barkley, as you may have noticed, is quite good at football. He does things you couldn't pull off in video games and he does it on a regular basis.

It's so "normal" to see him do it that traveling on the road is a good reminder of how special he really is. Against Iowa, beat writers covering the Hawkeyes gasped as Barkley navigated the field. Writers covering Penn State nodded in agreement, but with the kind of acknowledgement that seeing Barkley seemingly defying physics has been something you take for granted three years in a row.

Even so, Barkley appears to be hitting some extra gear. His incredible plays are popping up far more often. Two years ago it may have been twice a game. Now it's almost one a quarter.


In truth the answer has far more to do with the people around him than Barkley himself.

"I think every player in our program gets better as the years go on," James Franklin said on Tuesday. "They get better as their roles go and as they earn opportunities. Obviously he's a better player in year three than he was in year two because of all the work that he's put in in the off-season."

"So I guess what I would say is: I don't know if he's dramatically better this year than previous years; no different than other players. The difference is, he started up here."

What's incredible is that Barkley might not be done growing in terms of his physicality and the muscles and flesh that make him one of the best in the country. He's getting better, faster, and somehow even stronger.

"I think I mentioned to you guys this summer: His body is still responding," Franklin added. "He's still responding in workouts like a freshman. So typically, as a freshman, you get in the weight room and you lift and you run and your body really reacts because you've never worked so hard in your life. But by the time you get to your third year, you don't get the same type of results. His body is still reacting, and I think that's probably the difference with him is even at as high of a level as he was last year, he was still able to take another step."

Which is slightly terrifying.

Of course in a much more practical sense Penn State's offense is using Barkley a bit differently than it has in the past. He's catching the ball more, getting it in space. Couple that with the fact his teammates are better as well, and suddenly teams can't just stop Barkley. And if they do, there will be three other targets roaming the field to take advantage of that fact.

So if anything, the continued emergence of Saquon Barkley as a superstar is as much a testament to program's growth as it is anything else.

But at the end of the day, no amount of roster depth will make Barkley do the things he does.

That's all him. And he's special. And maybe getting even better.

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