Not only does playing football at Penn State require athletes be talented enough to compete in the Big Ten, it also demands that they be able to withstand the elements and play in Happy Valley year-round.
Whether it be the seemingly daily rain; long, snowy, and frigid winters; or humid summers, the SEC, with its year round sunshine, simply doesn’t compare to the rigor of State College’s grueling, multifaceted climate.
Saquon Barkley demonstrated the resilience needed to perform throughout the year at Penn State during an episode of Sport Science that aired on Wednesday morning.
In the segment, host John Brenkus had Barkley run through an obstacle course of different football drills after being subjected to various simulated weather conditions. Barkley’s times were then compared to his baseline performance. Under normal conditions, Barkley completed the course in 8.0 seconds.
After spending 10 minutes under 170˚ heat, Barkley finished the course only .3 seconds slower than his normal time. Brenkus made a point of noting that despite Barkley’s skeletal muscles having access to less oxygen because of the heat, his time was a full half-second faster than that of former Ohio State and current Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, under normal conditions.
To simulate rain, Brenkus drenched Barkley with a bucket of water to weigh him down, make his arm more slippery when carrying the ball, and overall, try to hamper his athleticism (Nice try).
Although actual rain hitting Barkley would’ve been an even greater test- one that he ran for a walkoff touchdown against Minnesota and picked up 92 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries against Rutgers in- the rising junior running back completed the course in 8.5 seconds. Barkley combatted the saturation by using choppy steps that were 50% shorter than his normal strides and by maintaining five points of contact with the ball while carrying it.
The final test for Barkley had him run through the course after spending ten minutes in a 20˚ ice truck. With stiffened joints, Barkley once again logged 8.5 seconds, still .3 seconds faster than Elliott’s normal time.
Barkley was in Los Angeles back in May to film with Sport Science and we are hoping that this isn’t the only segment of him that airs this season, especially since the intro showed Barkley being monitored while jumping up and down. After all, who wouldn’t want to know how you, too, can defy gravity and jump over opponents?