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Barkley Passes 1,000-Yard Mark To Cap Off Dazzling Debut Season

True freshman Saquon Barkley put Penn State’s rushing attack on his back with yet another solid performance Saturday evening in an otherwise demoralizing 55-16 loss in East Lansing. The Lehigh Valley native was the lone Nittany Lion running back to record a carry against the stout Michigan State front seven, but boy did the 5-foot-11, 222-pounder make the most of those 17 attempts, finishing with a game-high 103 yards on the ground.

But more importantly, Barkley became the first Penn State running back since Zach Zwinak (1,000 on the dot) in 2012 to eclipse the elusive 1,000-yard mark, despite Barkley notching only a one-yard carry against Temple and missing two and a half games with an ankle injury. When the clock ran out on Penn State in Spartan Stadium, Barkley finished the regular season with 1,007 yards rushing, surpassing D.J. Dozier (1,002 in 1983) for the most rushing yards as a freshman in Nittany Lion history. In fact, not one true freshman back in the entire country has run for more yards than Barkley.

Barkley was once committed to Rutgers, but flipped in favor of the Nittany Lions on Feb. 19, 2014. Thankfully, Barkley elected to don the black shoes and basic blues, because we all know what the former four-star did to the Scarlet Knights in Penn State’s 28-3 Stripe Out win in Week 3 — just 195 yards and two scores. Now, it appears Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors will come down to Barkley and Michigan’s do-everything über talent Jabrill Peppers.

Barkley leaped into the Penn State faithful’s hearts with a trio of gravity-defying hurdles against Buffalo…

Ohio State…

and Illinois.

Barkley has made a habit of pulling off the incredible and has deservedly garnered the reputation as Penn State’s most electric player on offense. It seems that on any given play, the 18-year-old can turn a would-be tackle into a game-changing explosion. You’d be hard-pressed to find a tailback in all of Division I, regardless of class, that possesses the polish and rare combination of size, speed, and unreal agility that No. 26 brings to the table.

At Whitehall High School, Barkley dazzled fans and scouts alike with his filthy jukes, often going untouched into the end zone. He also made headlines for a tremendous display of sportsmanship this past spring during track season. Barkley watched Rachel Panek, a sophomore from Saucon Valley High School, win her 100-meter hurdles event, but due to a timing system malfunction, officials required the race to be run again, with Panek failing to come out on top the second time around. Without hesitation, Barkley handed her his gold medal from the 100-meter dash. This just goes to show the type of character that Barkley brings to the table.

Barkley has far and away exceeded expectations in 2015, and don’t be surprised if the dazzling freshman can put together another special performance in the team’s bowl game roughly a month from now. The future of Penn State’s rushing attack is in reliable hands with Barkley. If this fall is any indication of what’s to come, we could be in for quite a treat the next few years. Just be sure to hold onto your hats, Penn State.

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

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