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Saquon Barkley Discusses Penn State, NFL Careers In SPA Q&A Session

Former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley took part in a virtual Q&A session hosted by the Penn State’s Student Programming Association (SPA) Monday night. He answered questions from students and alumni ranging from his favorite Creamery flavor (Editor’s note: it’s chocolate) to his experiences on football’s biggest stage.

Barkley kicked things off by discussing his favorite classes he’s taken at Penn State. At first, he started describing one of his sports communication courses but quickly realized he left out his true favorite: Soc 119 with Sam Richards.

“It’s Soc 119, I was tripping,” Barkley said emphatically. “It is a very interesting class. That was one class I definitely didn’t want to miss and one that I was excited to go to. I can’t believe I almost forgot about that!”

Later, Onward State managing editor Anthony Colucci, who once tried to strip a football from Barkley at the infamous Mifflin Streak, asked him what it was like to be thrown into stardom as a true freshman.

“It wasn’t crazy for me,” Barkley explained. “I think it’s how you deal with it. I didn’t pay attention to it, to be honest. All the friends that I’ve had and people I know didn’t let me get a big head and didn’t treat me differently. The only difference was being able to get into parties quicker. The only thing I had to get used to was people randomly taking pictures of me.”

Barkley played his last game at Beaver Stadium on November 18, 2017, in a 56-44 win against Nebraska. He totaled 224 offensive yards that day and scored three touchdowns. For him, that was the coolest moment in his college career.

“That week leading up I had crazy back spasms,” Barkley said. “The whole week I couldn’t practice. I knew it was going to be my last game and we were able to get the win and finish the season off strong. I think I broke the record that game on a run to the left in the red zone. Walking off the field was kind of sad knowing it was my last time playing there, but we were able to go off with a bang.”

Penn State prepared Barkley for the attention he receives in New York with the Giants. After all, it’s not easy being a star athlete in America’s biggest sports town.

“Penn State really helped me prepare for the New York media,” Barkley said. “One, you can’t even talk to the media as a freshman at Penn State. You have to train yourself, then they train you there. I didn’t start talking to the media until I was a sophomore. I would say that really helped me and prepared me on how to be able to answer questions and especially the hard-ball questions that New York throws at you now.”

The running back’s time on the field as a Nittany Lion prepared him for the NFL. You would think that the transition from college football to a professional career would be difficult. But for Barkley, it’s the complete opposite.

“It wasn’t difficult at all, to be honest,” Barkley said. “It’s football at the end of the day. The only thing that is different is you have more time. You don’t have classes you have to go to, you don’t have study halls that you have to worry about. There’s no essays, tests, or exams to prepare for. Everything you got is football.”

Later, Barkley discussed the biggest difference between Beaver Stadium and MetLife Stadium. Before answering the question, he did the right thing by stating how much he loves MetLife, but there’s nothing like Beaver Stadium.

“There is nothing like college. There is nothing like a college gameday,” Barkley explained. “110,000 people, whether it’s white, blue, blue & white, or Stripe Out. You guys came to play every single day. When I was there, we only lost one home game that I can remember. A college gameday is something you can’t recreate in the NFL.”

Speaking of a college gameday, Barkley spoke about what it’s like playing against his former teammates from his college days. He explained how cool it is to play against former teammates like Miles Sanders, Chris Godwin, Carl Nassib, and Mike Gesicki. However, there’s one teammate he’s still waiting to match up against.

“I play Trace [McSorley] next year,” Barkley said. “That’s going to be a cool moment. I need that jersey in my house. That’s a jersey that is a must-have. I don’t care. No matter what, I need that jersey.”

Barkley will be entering his third NFL season this fall. He has learned a lot of lessons thus far, but his biggest take-away is how to deal with adversity.

“Adversity, it’s a beautiful thing if you handle it the right way,” he explained. “I think the first two seasons, two losing seasons. I probably never had a losing season in my life. I then got hurt and missed three and a half games. I then had a game where I rushed for one yard, which has never happened to me in my life. All that together is, when this thing does turn around, it’s going to be a beautiful story.”

Being a professional athlete brings on tons of challenges. Barkley’s include scheduling, mental health, and, worst of all, losing. Defeats were rare in Happy Valley, but they’re something that he’s needed to get used to in New York lately.

“[Losing] sucks, but it’s a great thing because you can learn from it,” he said.

Barkley has also worked to make a difference off the field in his time off as well. Seeing the joy that he can bring people is something he looks forward to.

“There have been times when I have been able to interact with people and it can be so little as taking time out of your day to sign an autograph,” Barkley explained. “You can see the joy and sometimes tears coming down their faces. That’s the things that hit you and it’s like, wow.”

If you’re like me, you definitely want to know how to get quads like Saquon Barkley. Luckily, he revealed some insider information relating to his top-secret workout formula.

“If I had to bet money if there would have been a question about my legs, I would have won a lot of money there,” Barkley joked. “My favorite leg workout would be squats.”

There it is, folks. Just do an unreal amount of squats and you’ll have legs like Saquon Barkley.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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