10 things you didn't know about Eagles' Saquon Barkley

10 things you didn't know about Eagles' Saquon Barkley originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Saquon Barkley is one of the biggest blockbuster free agents the Eagles have ever signed. The Eagles made him the highest-paid running back in franchise history with a three-year, $37.75 million contract including $26 million in guaranteed money.

We all know Barkley starred at Penn State, was the second pick overall in 2018 and had some monster seasons with the Giants.

But here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the 26-year-old running back:

1. Barkley graduated in 2015 from Whitehall High School outside Allentown. He’s one of three NFL players Whitehall has produced but the only one without a Super Bowl ring. Matt Millen graduated from Whitehall in 1976 and like Barkley played college football at Penn State. He won Super Bowls in 1980 and 1983 with the Raiders and 1989 with the 49ers. Dan Koppen graduated from Whitehall in 1998 and was an NFL center for 10 years. He won Super Bowls with the Patriots in 2003 and 2004. So Millen and Koppen both won Super Bowls vs. the Eagles.

2. Barkley is one of only 12 backs in NFL history with two seasons of at least 1,300 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns and 50 receptions. He had them in 2018 as a rookie and again in 2022. The only other backs in the last 20 years with two such seasons are LaDainian Tomlinson and Christian McCaffrey.

3. Barkley’s 91 catches in 2018 are the most ever by a rookie running back, breaking the record of 88 set in 2006 by Reggie Bush of the Saints. The 91 catches are also the fifth-most ever by any rookie and 10th-most by a running back.

4. Barkley’s great uncle Iran “The Blade” Barkley was a professional boxer and world champion in three weight divisions. Barkley, who boxed from 1982 through 1999, was WBC middleweight champion in 1988 and 1989, IBF super middleweight champ in 1992 and 1993 and WBA light heavyweight champ in 1992. His 1989 WBC middleweight title defense against Roberto Duran was named Fight of the Year in 1989 by Ring Magazine. Duran won a split decision.

5. Since he entered the NFL in 2018, Barkley has scored 14 touchdowns of at least 20 yards – nine rushing and five receiving. Only Derrick Henry has more during the same span with 17.

6. Barkley is the only player ever with three career rushing touchdowns of at least 50 yards against the Eagles – a 50-yarder at the Linc in 2018, a 51-yarder at MetLife in 2018 and a 68-yarder at the Linc in 2019. Only Jim Brown and John “Frenchy” Fuqua had two. Only Barkley and Fuqua had two 50-yarders in the same season vs. the Eagles. Since 2018, the Eagles have allowed six rushing TDs of at least 50 yards – three by Barkley and one each by Rashaad Penny, Adrian Peterson and Aaron Jones.

7. Barkley, who was fourth in the 2017 Heisman Trophy voting behind Baker Mayfield, Bryce Love and Lamar Jackson, will become the first running back who was a Heisman Trophy top-four vote recipient to play for the Eagles since Darnell Autry in 2000. Autry averaged 3.0 yards on 112 carries for the Eagles in his second and final NFL season. That 3.0 figure is lowest by any Eagle with at least 100 carries in the last 30 years. At Northwestern in 1995, Autry rushed for 1,675 yards and 14 touchdowns and was fourth in Heisman voting, behind Ohio State running back Eddie George, Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier and Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel.

8. When Barkley was 8 years old and playing for the Hokendauqua youth football team in Whitehall, he made a deal with his father — Alibay Barkley — that if he scored 15 touchdowns in the season, his dad would have to give him $100. He had 14 and took off on a 99-yard TD and ran over to his dad with a big smile on his face knowing he was going to get his $100. Then his dad pointed to a penalty flag that negated the long touchdown, and the ball was spotted way back at the 20-yard-line. As told in a story by Mark Wogenrich in the Dec. 18, 2016, Allentown Morning Call, Barkley took off on the next play and scored an 80-yard touchdown. “I had to give him the money,” his dad said.

9. Barkley’s favorite player growing up was Curtis Martin, who was with the Jets when Barkley’s family lived in New York. Before the 2018 draft, Barkley got to spend some time with Martin, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. And the two of them played … chess. According to an ESPN story quoting a radio interview Barkley did with Tiki Barber, the chess match didn’t go so well for Barkley. “I’m not going to lie to you, he put a whupping on me,” Barkley said. “He kind of toyed with me a little bit. He told me I’ve got a lot more work to do to become a better chess player.”

10. Among the six running backs on the 2014 Pennsylvania all-state football team were Barkley from Whitehall High, Miles Sanders from Woodland Hills and Josh Adams from Central Bucks South. Adams was the Eagles’ leading rusher in 2018, Sanders in 2019, 2020 and 2022 and barring disaster Barkley will be this coming season. The other RBs on the all-state team were Charles Snorweah from Pennsbury, Jake McCarthy from Scranton and Connor Slomka of Pine-Richland (whose quarterback was Ben DiNucci). McCarthy is now a starting outfielder with the Arizona Diamondbacks heading into his fourth major-league season.

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