Man Of Steel: Is PSU Running Back Saquon Barkley College Football’s Superman?

He’s faster than a locomotive. Able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound. Look up into the sky….is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it Superman?

Well, sort of. This Superman traded in an ‘S’ on his chest for the No.26.

It’s really Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. And that building he’s leaping over is actually a college football defensive back from Iowa, thinking he’s going to stop Barkley. He was wrong.

Barkley has emerged as college football’s most exciting player and is so advanced for his age that he could probably step into an NFL game tomorrow and be a team’s best rusher.

If a coach and general manager were to assemble the perfect running back they would wind up with the equation equalling Barkley and his attributes. You would need the size and raw strength of Adrian Peterson (6-foot-1, 220 pounds) combined with the speed and shiftiness of LeSean McCoy.

That weight and pure strength comes from his dedication to the weight room. The legend of Saquon Barkley began when he started pushing around absurd amounts of weight during this past offseason which attracted the likes of ESPN and other major media outlets. His maxes on bench press, squat, and deadlifts are around where you would like your offensive and defensive linemen to be.

Barkley is a tick below 6-foot but weighs 230 pounds. You would never know he weighed that much if you watched him run the ball. As soon as Barkley touches the ball, it is as if the entire defense just shifted into a slower gear than him. It’s not like he’s breaking ankles left and right, he’s just so much faster and quicker with his first steps that the defense can’t adjust.

For PSU this season, Barkley is an automatic first down when handed the ball twice in a series. In 66 attempts this season, he has rushed for 518 yards which equates to 7.8 yards per carry.

Last season, Barkley started to emerge as a threat through the air when he caught 28 passes for 402 yards (14.4 yards per reception) and 4 receiving touchdowns in 14 games. This season he’s only gotten stronger, catching 23 passes for 355 yards (14.6 yards per reception) for two touchdowns. He’s almost mirrored his numbers in this category through four games played.

We saw that running backs who possess the ability to run and catch are becoming more and more valuable in the NFL. Guys like Christian McCaffery and Darren Sproles are special because they can beat you in so many ways, which forces defenses into a chess match with the offense. And even if Barkley is not running the football, he will excel in blocking pass rushers with all of the strength he possesses. We saw showcased in the final play of PSU’s stunning 21-19 victory over Iowa on Saturday night.

Barring any injury, it is possible that we may see Barkley finish this season with over 3,000 all-purpose yards. That will depend on if he is returning kick-offs towards the end of the season.

There have been rumors that this Heisman favorite could be staying in State College, Pa for one more year but it’s highly doubtful seeing as Barkley is setting himself up to be a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

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