Urban Meyer — a three-time national champion and future College Football Hall of Famer — thinks Saquon Barkley is pretty darn good.
How good exactly?
“He’s the best all-purpose guy we’ve probably faced in maybe my career,” Meyer told reporters at his Monday press conference. “You have ways of bottling up great running backs. It’s hard, especially with this guy. It’s really hard. The fact that they motion him out and create matchup nightmares, that’s what makes this guy, I mean, he’s — I’d be careful to say this — but he’s as good an all-purpose running back as we’ve seen. And that’s 30 years.”
Meyer has seen his fair share of legendary running backs, too.
At Florida, he coached against Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno, Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray and Michigan’s Mike Hart. In his five-plus years at Ohio State, Meyer’s game-planned around Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Indiana’s Tevin Coleman.
But no one’s impressed Meyer quite like Barkley — the Heisman front-runner and a terror in both the run, pass and kick return game.
“They do a good job of using him to create matchup issues,” Meyer added. “I think back to when I had (2009 NFL Rookie of the Year) Percy Harvin; we did some of that. But his body couldn’t take the pounding a running back takes.”
Meyer has seen first-hand what Barkley can do, too. As a true freshman, in 2015, Penn State’s prized weapon broke out with 194 rushing yards at The Horseshoe. He also chipped in 99 rushing yards on 12 carries in the Nittany Lions’ upset last season.
When it comes to Penn State, Meyer’s not just worried about Barkley. He said the Nittany Lions “menaced the team up north” defensively and “have very good personnel” surrounding quarterback Trace McSorley.
But in terms of attention — from Ohio State’s defense to fans across the country — the focus will be on Barkley this weekend.
Meyer knows that better than anyone.