Barkley A Once In a Lifetime Player

Phil Grosz, Blue White Illustrated
Blue White Illustrated

The words do not exist in my vocabulary to adequately describe the type of performance Saquon Barkley was able to accomplish on the football field against Iowa. For me it was a once in a lifetime college football experience.

Football by its very nature is an 11-member team sport, but if there is one player in college football today who is fully capable of leading his team to victory by putting his entire football team on his back, that player’s name is Saquon Barkley. In a remarkable and Penn State record breaking performance Saturday night, Barkley put Penn State’s entire offense on his back and willed it to a victory over Iowa.

But if you are a member of the media don’t ask him to confirm that reality after his record shattering performance against Iowa. A performance where he totaled a Penn State record of 358 all-purpose yards, rushed for 211 yards on 28 carries [7.5 YPC], had 12 pass receptions for 94 yards and without any question in my mind proved beyond any reasonable doubt who is the most talented player in the country in college football.

Personally, I’m amazed by the fact Barkley can remain so level headed and don’t completely understand how he can go before the media, after the type of performance he had against Iowa, and remain as humble and not at all somewhat self absorbed with his demeanor as he genuinely is and appears to be. Especially, following such an historic Penn State performance against Iowa.

“I can’t take the credit for the performance, it’s an 11-man sport,” Barkley told the media following his performance against Iowa. “You can’t do it by yourself.”

That’s why I firmly believe Barkley is the great player and person he is today. He is never so self absorbed with his accomplishments on the field of play to the point where he needs the accolades from the multitude of Penn State fans across the country and from the media to confirm to him that he is the best at his craft in college football in the entire country.

For me Howard Griffith said it best on the “Final Drive” on the BTN following Penn State’s epic 21-19 win over Iowa: “He [Barkley] is truly a special player. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player [running back] with his size, speed and lateral mobility in my entire life. He truly is a special player.”

Fellow BTN football analyst, Chuck Long, also on the “Final Drive” show put it this way: “That was a Heisman-like performance. He reminds me of a guy I played with in Detroit [in the NFL] —— Barry Sanders. I don’t have a Heisman vote—but if I did he would have my Heisman vote. I can’t imagine there is a better player in all of college football.”

Maybe the best accolade I heard thrown in Barkley’s direction following his remarkable performance against the Hawkeyes came from Tom Dienhart a senior staff writer on

“While [Trace] McSorley provided the knockout punch with a laser pass [to defeat Iowa], make no mistake about it: This was Barkley’s night. He didn’t touch the ball on the final four plays of the game. But the [Penn State’s] junior’s fingerprints were all over this instant classic. Sorry, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold and anyone else with Heisman dreams dancing in their head: But until further notice, Barkley is the leader for the prized bronze bauble.”

Personally, I’ve seen all the great Penn State running backs first hand in the 30-plus years I’ve covered the Penn State football program---- Charlie Pittman, Franco Harris, Lydell Mitchell, Curt Warner, D.J. Dozier, Blair Thomas, Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis, Larry Johnson, Evan Royster, including Heisman Trophy John Cappelletti——and in my opinion when Barkley moves forward to play in the NFL, he’ll be at the top of that Penn State list for me.

I agree with Howard Griffith of the BTN that for my eyes Saquon Barkley is a once in a lifetime Penn State football experience. I have never, ever in the past 38 years of watching college football seen a running back like him. With his size, speed, lateral mobility and pure football instincts and athleticism.

My only regret is that this once in a lifetime Penn State football experience will at this time next year have come to a glorious conclusion. Not only will Barkley be one of the best ever Penn State football players I’ve seen play in my lifetime, but he'll emerge from his Penn State football career as one of the program’s all-time best ambassadors.

I just can’t wait for this coming Saturday’s Penn State game with Indiana. I can’t wait to see what Barkley has in store for me to witness against the Hoosiers.

What to Read Next