NFL.com puts Saquon Barkley in elite company heading into 2016
It’s already being tabbed the year of the running back in college football.
Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook are all among the early favorites to win the Heisman Trophy after dominant 2015 seasons. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if a running back won the honor in consecutive years for the first time this century.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote about how dominant the 2016 group of running backs is in college football. He ranked the three aforementioned tailbacks expectedly in his top three running backs to watch in 2016.
Just behind those three at No. 4, he put a guy who burst onto the scene as a true freshman. That guy, of course, is Saquon Barkley.
Here’s what Zierlein had to say about the dynamic Penn State sophomore:
I didn’t watch much Penn State football last year. The only time I locked in on them was to study tape on Christian Hackenberg and that didn’t include much of Barkley. However, after watching his tape recently, I can say that he’s one of the most talented, pure runners in college football after just his freshman season. Barkley plays with elite vision and instant change-of-direction talent. He runs with burst and anger. The offensive line for Penn State was very inconsistent, so Barkley had his hands full in trying to create opportunities for himself, but he did just that. His 43 carries for 297 yards against Ohio State and Michigan State show what he’s capable of.
To say that Barkley is among the most talented running backs in the country is one thing. To put him one spot behind three legitimate Heisman Trophy contenders is another.
But who knows? Barkley certainly has the look of someone who can develop into a Heisman candidate. The reigning B1G Freshman of the Year set Penn State’s single-season record for rushing yards by a freshman, and he did it in only nine games. He already earned second-team All-B1G honors and did so with a shaky offensive line.
Zierlein didn’t even talk about the impact that new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead could have on Barkley’s production. Barkley did rush for 5.9 yards per carry, which was more than Derrick Henry ran for during his Heisman-winning season.
And just in case you forgot, Barkley can also do this:
In other words, don’t be surprised if Barkley hurdles past a few others in his path to college football stardom.