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Penn State Football: Saquon Barkley's Heisman Campaign Slowly Begins

by on May 01, 2017 1:40 PM

Before his sophomore year ever began Saquon Barkley was talking on the phone just a few feet from the Heisman trophy, the light shining through its display case early in the morning.

All the while Barkley never really looked at the trophy, probably because this wasn't the first time through the Lasch Building lobby. At some point seeing the Heisman may have caught his attention, but by now the sport's most prestigious award had been relegated to just another bit of decor in a room not short on history.

A historic season and many walks through that same lobby later, Barkley finds himself next to the Heisman again, but this time in conjunction with the actual possibility of receiving the award. And for the first time since Michael Robinson's outside shot at it in 2005, Penn State faces the task of marketing the balance of a subtle and not-so-subtle preseason Heisman campaign.

You could be excused for not noticing it during the Blue White game, but Penn State slipped the Heisman trophy out of its case and onto the concourse at Beaver Stadium that cloudy Saturday afternoon. Suddenly all that stood between you and a bit of history was a short line of fans looking to get their picture taken with it.

And because it's 2017, there was an official hashtag to go along with it, #HappyValleyHeisman.


Perhaps it's just coincidence that Penn State managed to bring out its often forgotten hardware in the lead up to a season that could see a Nittany Lion hoist it again. Maybe it was just another way to get people into the building.

But it probably wasn't. Penn State has become an infographic and social media savvy program under James Franklin, a fleet of graphic artists and students that churn out content at near propaganda-like levels. In the new lightning fast, flashy online lifestyle of college football that kind of thing is par for the course.

And so far shooting par has equated to a lot of Saquon.

Of course nobody would bat an eye if all of this was just to sell tickets. Heisman hopeful or not, a clip of Barkley running around and over opponents is hard to look away from. So if you're trying to fill a stadium, reminding people that you have one of the most electric players in the sport isn't a bad place to start.

But it would be 44 years this December since John Cappelletti won Penn State's one and only Heisman trophy, and judging by the slow but steady buildup of direct and implied Barkley-Heisman connections, that isn't lost on the powers that be.

Then again, like all preseason hype and predictions, it will come down to the player and his teammates


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