Three Penn State football stars secured spots on Sporting News’ first team All-American list, which was announced earlier Wednesday.
Running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Mike Gesicki, and safety Marcus Allen were the three Nittany Lions named to the first team for their performances during Penn State’s breakout 2016 season. Kicker Tyler Davis was also named to the second team, giving Penn State a total of four All-Americans. The three they have on the first team gives them more first teamers than any other school in the nation.
Barkley quickly established himself as one of college football’s best running backs and an early 2017 Heisman Trophy favorite — rushing for almost 1500 yards and scoring a total of 22 touchdowns in 2016. The Coplay, PA native’s quickness, elusiveness, and speed are just some of the attributes that could see him be selected very high in the 2018 NFL Draft, should he forgo his final year of NCAA eligibility after this season.
Gesicki was one of quarterback Trace McSorley’s best deep-threat options last year, using his size and jump ball ability to haul in five touchdowns in 14 games during the 2016 season. His physical presence is a big reason why he is rated so highly by The Sporting News, and this could help him have an even better 2017 season.
Allen was one of the leaders of Penn State’s defense last year, but his signature play of the season came on special teams. Under white-out conditions, he blocked Ohio State kicker Tyler Durbin’s 45-yard field goal try, and, well, you know what happened next.
Although this may just be a preseason ranking, being named as a first-team All American is a significant achievement, and might foreshadow an even better season for Penn State football in 2017.