Saquon Barkley may not be a Heisman Trophy finalist, but the Penn State running back is still one of the finest talents in college football — and he was recognized as such on Wednesday morning.
Barkley was selected as the Paul Hornung Award winner for the most versatile player in the country. He was chosen over Washington wide receiver Dante Pettis, Iowa State linebacker Joel Lanning and N.C. State running back Nyheim Hines by a panel of 17 voters and one fan vote.
“It is an honor to win an award like the Paul Hornung Award for the most versatile player in college football,” Barkley said in a written statement. “I am so appreciative of Mr. Hornung and the Louisville Sports Commission for selecting me for this very special honor. I have to give a lot of the credit to my teammates and coaches; they are the reason that I am in position to win this award and I could not have done it without them.”
Added Penn State head coach James Franklin: “I am thrilled for Saquon to join this elite list of Paul Hornung Award winners. I couldn’t be more proud of Saquon and everything he has accomplished at Penn State. In my 22 years of coaching, I have never coached or seen a player who can affect the game the way Saquon Barkley does. The Hornung Award is not only honoring the most versatile player in college football, but is also recognizing one of the best people in college football.”
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The award — named after 1956 Heisman Trophy winner and Notre Dame quarterback Paul Hornung — has been doled out since 2010. As Franklin mentioned, there are some notable names who have taken home the award, such as Odell Beckham Jr., Tavon Austin, Christian McCaffrey and, most recently, Jabrill Peppers.
Barkley fits that mold. The Big Ten’s offensive player, running back and return specialist of the year, Barkley racked up 179.5 all-purpose yards per game and 21 total touchdowns which rank second and fifth nationally, respectively. His 594 receiving yards are second-most by an FBS running backs, and the junior’s 28.4 yards per kick return ranks third-best among Power 5 players.
Barkley is also a finalist for the Maxwell, Walter Camp and Doak Walker Awards.