Saquon Barkley is used to showing off on the football field — but in ESPN’s Body Issue, which hits newsstands June 29, the former Nittany Lion shows off in some new ways.
The No. 2 overall NFL draft pick was photographed flipping tires, performing pull-ups and executing other exercises all the while showing off his body. He’s among 16 athletes to appear in the 10th anniversary issue and joins the likes of NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, MLB all-star Yasiel Puig and golfer Greg Norman who ditched their uniforms to bare (almost) it all.
In an interview that accompanies the issue, Barkley said his commitment to getting his body in shape started right before his junior year of high school when it looked as if he was going to be a starter. He wasn’t initially a fan of the weight room, but he came to love it after seeing the impact.
He went from running a 4.7-second 40-yard dash as a sophomore to the 4.4s as a junior and the 4.3s as a senior — even while bulking up.
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“A lot of people ask me that: How did I gain weight and continue to get faster?” Barkley told ESPN the Magazine. “I think it was the fact that I was gaining weight, but I was gaining good weight. I wasn’t taking creatine and all these other things to get my body bigger. I was eating steaks, potatoes, chicken, and all that stuff. Just working hard.”
And as far as his favorite physical feat? Well, Penn State fans are sure to remember that — his “I believe I can fly” play against Illinois his freshman season.
“I took off at, like, the 4-yard line. I was able to jump into the end zone,” he said. “I would’ve gotten farther, but a guy kind of jumped up and hit me. After he hit me, my momentum kind of just carried out, and it was kind of cool.”