Call him Coach Barkley.
Penn State’s star running back and 2017 Heisman contender is taking spring practice lightly, with limited reps to avoid the risk of unnecessary injury. James Franklin knows what he’s got in Saquon Barkley, and is using camp to primarily evaluate the rest of the tailbacks.
But Barkley is still improving — just in a new way.
“Obviously you want to compete, but it makes you look at the game differently,” Barkley said Wednesday after Penn State’s fifth practice of spring camp. “You get to see things that you probably don’t when you’re in a game or in a practice rep. You see the field a lot better, and it teaches you to be a leader.”
As Barkley stood on the sideline, watching the second and third-team offenses operate, it was clear his mind was at work.
Only a week into spring ball, Barkley’s starting to sound like a coach, too. The junior broke down his fellow running backs’ games, calling Mark Allen “one of the shiftiest guys” he’s ever seen, complimenting Andre Robinson on his feel for inside zone schemes, and saying that Miles Sanders “can do incredible things with the ball in his hands.”
Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead told Barkley that great teams have players who can coach other players — and the 2016 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year is taking that to heart.
“I just try to take the knowledge that I have from the two years of playing … and try to give them advice,” Barkley said, “and suggesting what they do on certain plays, helping them take a negative and turn it into a positive.”