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Saquon Barkley not pondering NFL future until after Penn State’s bowl game

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley (26), running for a touchdown against Nebraska on Nov. 18, said he has not yet decided on his football future as the Nittany Lions prepare to meet Washington in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley (26), running for a touchdown against Nebraska on Nov. 18, said he has not yet decided on his football future as the Nittany Lions prepare to meet Washington in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl. adrey@centredaily.com

Saquon Barkley was peppered with questions on Tuesday morning — and the one on every set of lips was asked.

Have you made a decision on when you will make a decision?

That is referring, of course, to whether Barkley will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. The Penn State running back — a projected top-10 pick — told FightOnState.com’s Mark Brennan that “it’s gonna be a tough decision.”

“I don’t have an exact date,” Barkley said. “It could be the day after (the Fiesta Bowl), it could be two days after, it could be two weeks after.”

The back continued, adding “when I feel comfortable that I’ve made the right decision,” he will announce it.

While Penn State fans surely hope he returns, realistically it’s unlikely. ESPN’s Todd McShay projects Barkley being picked No. 6 overall by the Cleveland Browns in April’s draft.

The Nittany Lions meet Washington in the Fiesta Bowl at 4 p.m. Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Showing some Love

A few weeks ago — when Barkley was in Atlanta for the College Football Awards — he spent a lot of time with Stanford back Bryce Love, a fellow Maxwell and Doak Walker award finalist.

Barkley used that opportunity to pick his peer’s brain on Saturday’s opponent. The Huskies had the nation’s top rushing defense this season, allowing just 92.3 yards per game.

Love and Stanford beat up Washington 30-22 on Nov. 10, and the Cardinal back rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns. Stanford and Penn State run totally different offensive systems, however, and Barkley admitted as much.

“I just asked him how he attacked the defense,” Barkley told reporters. “What was his mindset? Was it more speed? Was it more power? And if you watch the game, he uses a lot more speed. And he had a really good game, had success against that defense.”

Barkley and the Nittany Lions hope the extra information helps this weekend.

Keeping tabs

Senior tight end Mike Gesicki stays in close contact and has built a relationship with former Nittany Lion and current Pittsburgh Steelers pass-catcher Jesse James.

Naturally, Gesicki had a thought or two on James’ controversial non-touchdown against the New England Patriots on Dec. 17.

“If you know anything about football, he can catch a ball, reach out and he’s got possession of it,” Gesicki said. “Everybody’s kind of confused about the whole rule and this and that. But Jesse is having a ton of success up there right now, and I know he’s going to continue to make plays.”

Quotable

“Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell, those are two backs — they’re not just downhill runners and only do one thing, or they’re coming in on third down; They’re every-single-down backs. They catch the ball out of the backfield, they block, they run. And as a running back, that’s what you want to be. ... I don’t try to be like Todd Gurley or Le’Veon, but I do watch their film and games and try to add pieces and parts of their games and put it to mine.” — Barkley, on current players he looks up to.

John McGonigal: 814-231-4630, @jmcgonigal9

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