After Penn State’s 56-44 win over Nebraska, Saquon Barkley said he’s still unsure whether he’ll declare for the NFL draft, but will suit up for the Nittany Lions in their bowl game no matter what.
“I haven’t made a decision yet,” Barkley said of turning pro. “That’s something that, at the end of season, I’ll sit down with my mother, my father, and my family and really think about.”
Guys like No. 26 don't come around often.
What a legacy, if this was Saquon Barkley's final home game. pic.twitter.com/vSdV5KAIZU
— Onward State (@OnwardState) November 19, 2017
Fans and media members alike have wondered for months if Barkley would skip the postseason, but the junior running back shut down any questions of not participating.
“I understand why some other players have not played in a bowl game,” Barkley said. “I’m different from Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey and all those guys. Our situations are different.”
Barkley surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for the third straight year, joining Evan Royster as only the second Nittany Lion ever to accomplish the feat. He needs 304 more yards on the ground in the next two games to break Royster’s program record of 3,932.
James Franklin reflected postgame on Barkley’s exemplary commitment to the program, saying he always has a smile on his face.
“He’s been a model citizen off the field. He’s killed it in the classroom. I’m really proud and blessed to have coached him.”
Franklin wrapped up his press conference with an interesting blurb about Barkley’s looming decision.
“I told Saquon how I felt about it before the season started,” Franklin said. “We had one conversation and we haven’t really talked about it since. We’ll have that conversation when the time comes.”
Jason Cabinda, who will likely be playing on Sundays next fall, said the team will be behind Barkley every step of the way.
“At the end of the day, you’ve gotta do what’s best for you and your family regardless. This is a business. It chews you up and spits you out,” Cabinda said. “When you once thought you had an opportunity to do something, it can be gone like that.”
The senior linebacker continued, saying: “Whatever call he does make, we’ll be in 100 percent full support of him cause he’s been nothing but an absolutely selfless teammate to us, so we owe him that.”
Barkley also broke Lydell Mitchell’s career rushing touchdowns mark against the Cornhuskers with 39, but he’s taking the same one-game-at-a-time approach as Franklin. The Coplay, Pa., native discussed some of his motivating factors and why he feels so strongly about playing in the team’s bowl game.
“I play for my teammates, I play for my brothers…I play for [my coaches and my family],” Barkley said. “I wouldn’t be the player that I am without those people.”